Google search switching to mobile first index from desktop index

It is still early days in the mobile-first world, but it is moving fast. Businesses need to act on how customers interact and engage with their website on smaller screens. It’s a challenge, but the prospects are exciting.

Google has made no bones about its preference for mobile first. Given there are more users accessing the internet on mobile phones than desktop, this stance hardly comes as a surprise.

Mobile-first content will become even more critical for online businesses.

Gary Illyes, a web analyst for the search engine giant, recently announced the company intends to introduce a mobile-only index. Although the current desktop index will still be used, mobile-first will become the primary index.

The change will affect online businesses quite substantially – especially if you are in an industry that typically publishes long-form content to provide your audience with the in-depth discussion they want.

It is too early to tell how the two indexes will appear following an initial search by end-users. Will Google determine the type of device being used, or will users have to signal whether they want mobile or desktop content?

Perhaps either of these options will be something that develops in the future. For the time being, publishers may have to consider creating a mobile page that can be used as a stepping stone to longer content.

It’s time to get creative and responsive.

How can businesses best adopt mobile-first index?

The switch to a mobile-first index could pose problems for many online businesses – particularly given we have been publishing content designed for desktop users.

Google has so far given very little information about how the system will work, although Illyes did say updates would be published on the Google blog.

So, for now, it’s best to sit tight until we have some indication how Google intend to deliver search results. Illyes also mentioned he was reluctant to give a date for the launch as “dates change.”

However, by what we already know about search engines, it is possible to propose suggestions, so you don’t lose traffic you have worked so hard to get.

Time to get responsive

Is this Google's big push to get every website on the internet mobile friendly? I think so. It seems that the safest option is to have a fully responsive website. This means that the website is receptive to what screen size it is being viewed on. Therefore, the desktop index will be more or less the same as the mobile index with having to duplicate any content.

Publishers that currently use same pages for mobile and desktop will not need to produce two pieces of content anymore. The mobile version will rank in search results over the desktop. Content designed for desktop users will be featured.

Graphic design will take on a more important role for the mobile-only index. Visual images increase traffic by up to 94% already. In a mobile-first world, quality graphic designs will be needed to communicate to your audience and compel them to read the full article.

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