Having a mobile-friendly website is a basic necessity, not a nice extra you can get around to one of these days. We’ve stressed that point repeatedly over the past couple of years, but if you’ve been holding out, still doubting that it’s really all that important, it’s time to face up to the new reality. Google is beginning an ‘experiment’ that will soon become standard practice: search rankings will be evaluated first based on an analysis of a website’s mobile version.
How can this be? Aren’t desktop sites still number one? Nope, they’re not. According to Google, US mobile searches outnumbered those conducted on desktop computers as of May, 2015. With that being the case, it only makes sense that the search giant would update its algorithms to evaluate mobile sites as a first step to determining page rank.
Up until now, search rankings have taken mobile sites into account but primarily focused on desktop versions to determine the relevance of content to a search query, even when that search was conducted on a mobile device. That no longer holds true for sites included in the preliminary testing, and as time passes, the policy will change for all sites.
The company says, “To make our results more useful, we’ve begun experiments to make our index mobile-first. Although our search index will continue to be a single index of websites and apps, our algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site, to understand structured data, and to show snippets from those pages in our results.”
Here’s what to do to make sure you’re ready for the impending change:
- Check to make sure your site is mobile-friendly, using Google’s testing tool.
- Follow these instructions to verify the mobile version of your website if you haven’t already.
- Responsive websites that share most content and markup between mobile and desktop versions shouldn’t face any issues. Those that have significant differences must serve structured markup for each version. You can check to see how similar these elements are using the Structured Data Testing Tool. You’ll also want to ensure that Google’s web crawlers can find your mobile site using the txt testing tool.
If your mobile site is a work in progress, don’t rush it out before it’s properly done in hopes of reaping SEO benefits. Google says: “[K]eep in mind that a functional desktop-oriented site can be better than a broken or incomplete mobile version of the site. It’s better for you to build up your mobile site and launch it when ready.”
Mobile-first indexing is now a thing. Make sure your accounting firm is ready to take advantage of this new step and won’t be penalized with lower page ranks from Google. It’s really and truly time to invest the resources to update your site and ensure you’re offering mobile searchers just as valuable an experience as the one you’re providing those who reach your firm via desktop.