Smartphones have become an extension of our hands and they affect everything we do these days. From how we access websites, find locations, entertain ourselves, and who can leave out the camera feature, phones have become integral with our daily lives.
I feel like I want to do a Star Wars intro with “A long time ago….” but let us try to keep it on track.
On Tuesday, October 31, 2023, google proudly announced that the Mobile-First Indexing has finally been completed. But what does that actually mean? Here’s the official announcement from Google, but read on for our own interpretation on things.
In this article, we’ll delve into the world of Google’s Mobile-First Indexing, explore the importance of mobile compatibility, understand why partnering with Big Red SEO is a brilliant choice, and celebrate the completion of Google’s Mobile-First Indexing rollout.
What’s the Buzz About Mobile-First Indexing?
Kim and I were in El Paso, Texas at the start of November 2023. While we stared into the abyss of a fridge and contemplated what to eat, we decided we wanted burgers. Not just our burgers, but we wanted the best burger El Paso has to offer.
So to the phones we went and started what has become a normal search for us, “best burger near me.” We’re not alone in this, people are doing these kinds of searches every day. But up came a local place and a review from another person that said “Go here for the best burger”, along with some other words, but you get the idea.
Into the car we jumped, and 4 miles later, we found Burger Bros! These guys have won El Paso Best Burger in the past, and folks, it doesn’t disappoint! But here’s the crazy thing: while I went for burgers, they also offered some amazing tacos. I mentioned to the cashier, who happened to be the manager, that this was my first time in El Paso and my first time at his place. He asked if I had tried their Tacos, to which I answered “no” and he responded with a friendly “I got you bro!”
In a couple of minutes, I had a taco in front of me while we waited for the burgers to grill. When I asked why it was so busy, he said on Tuesday they do a potato taco. I’m Irish, so I said, “A potato taco you say?” And in 30 seconds, I had another taco in front of me. This wasn’t even what I ordered (or paid for), but they were on point! I quickly added four more tacos to the order for Kim and left with a happy smile on my face. These guys were great, and guess what? They truly do have the best burgers in El Paso! Stop in and tell them you saw this article on Big Red SEO.
Now, I tell you this story not just because I want to share the love with the amazing staff and establishment but because the base of the story (searching for burgers) is something people do every day. This is one of the core uses for smartphones today – searching for things.
And websites are no different. Google decided back in 2015 that not only were people going to be searching on their phones more, but that websites should think about the mobile experience more than the desktop.
So, Google introduced Mobile-First Indexing, a game-changing update in its ranking algorithm. Instead of primarily using the desktop version of a website to evaluate and rank it, Google now gives more weight to the mobile version. This means your website’s mobile compatibility directly influences its position in search results.
The Mobile Revolution: Numbers Don’t Lie
Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of Mobile-First Indexing, let’s take a quick look at some statistics surrounding the importance of mobile compatibility:
- Over 60% of all online traffic comes from mobile devices, and this number continues to rise.
- More than 50% of all e-commerce traffic occurs on mobile devices.
- Approximately 40% of users will abandon a website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load on their mobile device.
If you want to read some more crazy stats, here’s a link to an interactive chart at Statista.
It’s simple: mobile traffic has been on the rise. User preferences are shifting from the low 30% in 2015 to the over 60% in 2023. If your website doesn’t provide a seamless mobile experience, you’re probably missing out on a huge opportunity.
Mobile Compatibility: The SEO Connection
Now that we’ve established the increasing significance of mobile traffic let’s explore the critical link between mobile compatibility and SEO rankings.
Google’s main goal is to provide users with the best possible results, and with that, a website’s ability to be used on a mobile device directly impacts the user experience.
If your website isn’t optimized for mobile, it can lead to many different issues that all affect your overall SEO rankings:
- Poor User Experience: Non-responsive websites can be hard to navigate on mobile devices, resulting in frustrated users who are likely to bounce back to the search results. Not only have you lost a sale, but you’ve potentially shown Google that your website isn’t providing value to the searcher.
- Slow Loading Times: Phone users are accustomed to fast page responses, and if your website takes ages to load on a mobile device, it’s a recipe for disaster. Google rewards fast sites and punishes slow-responding websites, dropping their rankings.
- High Bounce Rates: If mobile users quickly leave your website and back to search results, it can signal to Google that your content doesn’t meet their needs.
- Loss of Mobile Traffic: Since Google implemented a mobile-first initiative, websites that aren’t mobile-compatible may experience a significant drop in mobile traffic, and that directly affects the number of users on your site ready to make a purchase.
In a nutshell, mobile compatibility isn’t just a buzzword; it’s a critical factor that can make or break your website’s SEO rankings and, consequently, your online visibility.
The Power of a Mobile User Experience
Over the past few years, both myself and Kim have spent a lot of time on the Airbnb website both the desktop and mobile versions, but if you ask either of us, we prefer the desktop 99% of the time.
One of the big complaints that we have on the mobile site is that you can’t zoom in on pictures. It’s a little harder to navigate and find specific listings, especially since we’re only looking for pet-friendly locations. We also don’t want to stay in a tent or share a house with someone. Selecting these options on the desktop site is not a problem, but a mobile phone can be a nightmare.
So they have some UX issues that we don’t agree with, but it gets 1000 times worse when you end up on a vacation home website that isn’t mobile-friendly. The text is so tiny that we would have to pinch and zoom just to be able to read it. I have that issue with restaurant websites that display their menu as an image too. But another huge issue is that when I finally find what I want to click on, the links are so close together I nearly always click the wrong one.
Can you sense the frustration? Have you experienced it? All of that is a poor mobile user experience, and it is something Google is watching for too, and then adjusting their web ranking visibility.
So, let’s forget about the bad stuff, and focus on what makes for a great user experience.
A visitor should be able to interact with your website on a desktop without a problem, but it needs to be smooth and seamless on a mobile device also. Regardless of the device being used, the website needs to have a responsive web design so it’s familiar to all viewers.
Some of the factors that we want to see on a mobile website are as follows:
- Responsive Design: Your website should adapt seamlessly to different screen sizes and orientations. The text needs to be large enough on mobile so that it is easy to read, and navigation should be easily clickable on mobile devices.
- Fast Loading Times: Mobile users are always on the go and want information quickly. Slow loading times can be a deal-breaker.
- Mobile-Friendly Content: Content is king, even on mobile. Your content should be formatted for mobile readability with concise paragraphs, legible fonts, and touch-friendly buttons.
- Intuitive Navigation: Users should be able to find what they’re looking for without excessive scrolling or clicking. Mobile menus should be easy to use. We recommend a three-clicks or less rule when it comes to navigation.
- Reduced Pop-ups: Annoying pop-ups and interstitials can ruin the mobile user experience. Keep them to a minimum.
A smooth and enjoyable mobile experience keeps users engaged, reduces bounce rates, and increases the likelihood of conversions. And, as we’ve learned, it also keeps Google’s algorithm smiling favorably upon your website.
After 7 Years: The Epic Completion of Google’s Mobile-First Indexing Rollout
And now we arrive on October 31st, 2023. On any other year, it’s Halloween, but for this year, the milestone of finally completing the Mobile First Indexing is an achievement worth celebrating.
Few could have thought that when Google announced it back in 2015 that it would take seven long years to implement fully. The goal was simple: to prioritize mobile-friendly websites in their search rankings and to cater to the growing population of mobile users. This announcement sent waves across the digital landscape, and website owners, developers, and SEO experts started the race to adapt.
Over the years, Google’s relentless commitment to providing the best user experience for mobile users drove them to perfect their Mobile-First Indexing approach. They continuously improved their algorithms, provided guidance to webmasters, and ensured that mobile optimization was not just a buzzword but a fundamental requirement for online success.
The Impact of Mobile-First Indexing
Throughout this seven-year journey, the impact of Mobile-First Indexing was undeniable. Businesses that embraced mobile compatibility experienced a surge in online visibility, higher rankings in search results, and a boost in mobile traffic. Users enjoyed a seamless browsing experience, ultimately contributing to their satisfaction and engagement.
The rise of mobile-friendly websites has changed how we navigate the digital world. It influenced our shopping habits, how we access information, and even how we connect with businesses. In some places around the world, people almost exclusively use their phones to access the internet.
The Mobile-Friendly Future is Here to Stay
The completion of Google’s Mobile-First Indexing rollout means that mobile compatibility is no longer an option; it’s a necessity for businesses and website owners looking to succeed online. Google’s commitment to providing the best possible user experience for mobile users is a reminder of the ever-changing nature of the digital world.
Whether you’re a business owner, a website administrator, or a digital marketer, it’s long past the time of suggesting that the website works on mobile devices, and instead require that it does.
If your website is still stuck without a mobile-friendly display, contact Kim or Conor at Big Red SEO and we’ll be happy to help. Remember that it’s not just how pretty something looks on a phone; the information must be present for Google to index the site. From optimizing existing content to creating new blogs, converting or creating a new web design, and search engine optimization (SEO) tweaks, these are some of the many things we do for our clients at Big Red SEO, and we do it for you too!