Well, it’s official, mobile-first indexing is finally here. On March 26, 2018, Google announced that it would be migrating sites that followed the best practices for mobile-first indexing. This means that Google will be using the mobile version of your website for indexing and ranking instead of the desktop version.
If you’re a Singapore business owner this may mean a complete overhaul of your website design. But don’t panic, we’ll make things easier for you by providing a list of elements that you should focus on. But first, let’s discuss this update.
How Google Has Changed
Updates are nothing new for Google. In fact, research shows that this search engine makes about 500-600 regular tweaks each year. And that’s why Singapore business owners need to be careful. As they add up, these changes can put an end to your SEO marketing campaign and lead to your being blacklisted. But some changes are bigger than others and have an even bigger impact, as is the case with this mobile-first indexing tweak.
Up until now, Google’s top priority has been the desktop. Mobile devices were definitely important, but in comparison to the desktop, they were secondary. Sites needed only to be mobile-friendly. However, Google now has one search index and its based on mobile content.
Why is this? Well, there are three key reasons. First, mobile usage is surpassing that of the desktop. Second, when it comes to organic mobile search traffic, Google has the highest share in comparison to other search engines. And lastly, mobile search use is expected to reach over 200 million by 2020.
Changes Singapore Businesses Need to Make
If your website is already mobile-friendly, then you may be assuming that you’re in the clear. However, keep in mind that your being mobile-friendly may not necessarily mean that you are prepared for mobile-first. There have been many mobile-friendly websites that have experienced a dip in their traffic since the change. So if you plan on working with an SEO consultant, here are three things that they need to be focusing on: your mobile optimisation, your content, and elements that affect your indexing. Let’s discuss these things.
Not Just Mobile-Friendly, But Mobile Optimisation
It’s easy to confuse the concept of mobile-friendly with that of mobile optimisation. You see, when your website is mobile-friendly, it means that people can view it on their mobile device. However, this does not tell us how good the user experience is.
Mobile optimisation is actually what tells us how responsive your design is. Is your website simply shrunken down to the size of a mobile screen or can people actually use the site as easily as they would on your desktop? In other words, your website text shifts without breaking down. Your content and navigation are actually hidden in certain places. The images collapse or expand.
The experience should be the same or better than your desktop. However, this is not always easy. Maybe you should design a stand-alone mobile website or create a mobile app. While apps aren’t necessarily on Google’s priority list, there’s a good chance they will be.
How to find out if your mobile is optimised:
Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. Enter your URL and then ‘Run Test.’ If it optimised, you will see ‘Page is mobile-friendly.’ If not, Google will prepare a detailed report that includes all of the areas you need to fix.
Adjust the Content
Not only should you make sure that your mobile looks the same as your desktop, but also that your content is optimised for mobile. For instance, you should consider writing in shorter sentences and paragraphs as it makes it easier for mobile users to read. This is especially helpful if you specialise in long form content. Make sure that your blog layout is simple and clean. Keep your sidebar free of clutter. Your images should be cropped so as to avoid slow downloading. In this way, these things can be more easily rearranged.
It’s also important that your titles are optimised. This means that you should focus on your use of keywords. Moz’s keyword tool can give you a list of relevant keywords, how difficult they are as well as your likelihood to rank for them. The earlier on websites can make these changes, the better.
Speed Up Loading
Any qualified SEO expert will tell you that speed is one of the most pivotal parts of SEO. And it’s especially important when it comes to mobile-first indexing. According to research, if it takes your page longer than 3 seconds to load, most visitors will leave. Head over to Google PageSpeed Insights to find out whether or not your website’s speed is sufficient. You may receive a great report or Google may offer suggestions for things that need to be changed. In many cases, it may be a matter of tweaking your back-end coding or the weight of your content.
Rethink Intrusive Interstitials
There are certain types of mobile popups called interstitials. These are pages that are inserted into the flow of your editorial structure as a means of advertising. Due to how intrusive these can be, Google is starting to crack down on them. In fact, the search engine has even gone so far as to create a penalty specifically for this called ‘intrusive interstitial penalty.” And as many Singapore website owners know, a penalty can be hard to bounce back from.
Diversify Traffic Sources
Unfortunately, websites can no longer rely on organic traffic alone. They must diversify. You need to be able to generate your own traffic, specifically with mobile. A great option for this is the use of social media. You could also use guest posts, slideshows, Quora, email newsletters, videos, podcasts, influencer marketing, and PPC.
When it comes to your page score, there are very few things that hold as much weight at backlinks. According to research, backlinks account for as much as 30% of your total page score. So you need to be familiar with which website are linking to yours. Backlinks that come from low quality or irrelevant websites can ruin your reputation with Google. Use tools like SEMRush to find out where your backlinks are coming from.
How to find out who is linking to you:
Plug your URL into SEMRush’s search bar and then select ‘Start Now.’ You see the backlinks section and view a full report for all of the details. If you notice any bad links, then you need to disavow them on your Search Console. But be careful about removing the links as you don’t want to get rid of one that actually helps you. This strategy is also a great way to reverse engineer your competitor’s strategy and find out who is linking to them.
Add Schema Markup
If you would like to help Google understand the content on your page and increase your chances of a high mobile ranking, then add schema markup. This is structured data that you include in your website to make sure that Google is able to crawl and index your page. It’s also what leads to rich snippets. Not only will Google know what your page says, but it will know what it actually means.
Google is still in the early stages of mobile-first indexing, so there is still time for you to make improvements to your website. They are to make sure that your website is mobile optimised, not just mobile-friendly. This means making it as easy to use as your desktop version.