How to Optimize Your Blog for Google’s Mobile-First Index

In spring last year, Google made a major change to their algorithm. You’ve probably seen that “mobile-index enabled” message in Google Search Console. So what’s changed? Google assessed the desktop version of the website first to determine its rankings in desktop and mobile search results. If there were a mobile version, the lucky website received an extra boost in mobile search results.

As roughly 60% of all Google searches now happen on mobile, the company decided to change the “rules”. Now they will first evaluate the mobile version of your website (and its content) to determine how it should rank both in desktop and mobile search results.

Quick Mobile-First Index FAQ:

I don’t have a mobile version of my blog. Am I in trouble?

Well, that’s not great. Google will still index the desktop version of your website. But the lack of mobile website version will change your rankings in desktop search results. So if you want to receive more traffic and deliver a better experience to readers, you should start looking for developers ASAP.

Also, take immediate action if you currently have two different website versions:

Having two website versions with different content can mess up your rankings as well.

What if I have a responsive blog theme? Do I need to do anything?

This algorithm change probably won’t have any significant impact on your current rankings. But…if you want to improve those, you should start paying more attention to your mobile content and user experience.

Run a quick check using Mobile-Friendly Test tool from Google to make sure you have it all covered!

Are there any new content no-nos?

Yes, just a few. Make sure that none of your blog posts or web pages includes “hamburger menus” and “accordions”.  A recent SEO study found that such “hidden” content is devalued in the mobile-first index.  So if you want to get more search traffic, make sure that all content is visible on your mobile website.

Stop using huge pop-ups on mobile (e.g. those prompting users to sign up for your newsletter) and intrusive ads that will eat up a good chunk of space on small screens. Google labels those as poor mobile UI.

Forget about Flash it’s “clumsy” and mobile-worthless. If you want to add some cool interactive elements to your blog, use HTML5 or Java instead.

Quick Checklist For Optimizing Your Blog for Mobile-First Index

As we mentioned already, there’s no need to panic if your blog is responsive and/or you have an identical mobile/desktop version of it.  Still, there are a few things you should pay more attention to from now on.

Mobile snippets. Make sure that those will look good in search results. You can use the Yoast SEO plugin to review them:

Mobile snippets have a shorter character count then desktop versions. As a rule of thumb, you should add the same information and relevant keywords to both mobile and desktop versions.

Make sure you have XML and media sitemaps. These two elements tell Google when you add new content and prompt the crawlers to index your new pages. XML sitemaps allow Google to “read” your texts. Media sitemaps do the same for images and videos. If you have Yoast plugin installed, don’t worry about this step! It automatically generates XML and media sitemaps for your blog.

Check your site speed. Mobile users have a low tolerance for slow-loading pages. Google as well. If your mobile website takes ages to load, you won’t be treated to a prime spot in search results. To check your page loading speed and optimize it, use our tips.  

Also, consider implementing AMP pages for your mobile version. The Accelerated Mobile Pages Project is aimed at improving the mobile experience for users. Using the proposed tech stack, you can make your pages load much faster and improve your visibility in search results (as AMP content is in Google’s good grace).  You can use this WordPress plugin to automatically convert your blog posts to AMP.

Think about your post layout and design.  Do you use a large enough text size for mobile users? Is there enough white space and padding for scrolling? Your post layouts should be “finger-friendly”, with enough padding around interactive elements such as buttons that’s easy to design with new Gutenberg Editor on WordPress.

If you are you a chloédigital publisher and still have some questions left, ask your support specialist about mobile-first index.

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