When Will Google's Mobile-First Index Launch?

By Tinuiti Team

In the online marketing world, mobile-focused SEO has dominated headlines for months. Google has revealed that it intends to launch a mobile-first index, which means that Google will now display SERP results based on the mobile version of your website, whereas previously, rankings had been strictly tied to your desktop site.

The shift to a mobile index follows that trend that nearly 60 percent of searches occur on mobile devices. Consumers are using their smartphones and tablets to search for everything from products and services to information and local businesses.

However, while Mobile First has been a hot topic since it was announced back in November 2016, Google recently announced that the index might not launch until early 2018.

Given that optimizing your mobile experience can be a time-consuming process, here are several steps you should start taking today:

Concentrate on Responsive Design

Google prefers websites that have the same depth of content on both desktop and mobile.

To prepare for the mobile-first index, make sure you're using responsive design on your website. It's much easier than creating a separate mobile site because you don't have to update two different sites to make a single change. Not only is it easy to manage, it’s also highly cost effective.

Optimize Your Mobile Site for Speed

In the wake of the mobile-first discussion, Google has launched the AMP project, otherwise known as Accelerated Mobile Pages. AMP functions by using a pre-render which enables the page to load before a user is able to make their first click. Using AMP pages allows for your content to load 15-80% faster than a traditional webpage. As an added benefit, sites using AMP get a designation in the SERP which looks like a small lightning bolt icon next to their article. While AMP was first extended to publishers, it is now open to all business including those which focus on e-commerce.

Using AMP will require some development resources as you’ll need to pair down your JavaScript, HTML, and CSS in order to make it more lightweight. However, don’t be discouraged. AMP pages maintain the same functionality as their desktop equalivants, yet load noticeably faster! AMP even comes with its own testing tool to ensure proper implementation.

Verify Your Site for Mobile-Friendliness

Google's Mobile-Friendly Test tool can help you determine whether your website meets Googl's criteria. Just enter your website's URL and hit the Run Test button. Wait just a few seconds for Google to analyze the page.

If the tool determines that your website isn't mobile friendly, it will tell you what you need to fix. Perhaps you have content that is wider than the typical smartphone screen size. On the other hand, if Google doesn't detect any problems, you'll see a message that says "This page is Mobile-Friendly."

While Google doesn’t plan to launch a mobile-first index anytime soon, it’s important to get ahead of the game by optimizing your website in terms of both design and speed. However, you don’t need to panic about the proposed changes. You still have plenty of time to get your website up to par with Google’s standards.

We know that SEO can prove difficult to master, so you're not alone if you're struggling to get it right. We help businesses like yours achieve better SEO results every day. Check out our case study: HouseLogic Achieves Unprecedented Organic Growth Amid Google Panda & Penguin Updates to learn more.

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