Mobile websites get more important than ever

Huge news this week for search engine geeks like me, with the news that Google is going ‘mobile first’ for its index. What does that mean for siteowners? Here’s what we’ve been able to gather so far.

Many sites (although not mine, and probably not yours) show different content to visitors on desktop PCs and mobile devices. Those that do probably have ‘cut down’ content on the mobile version. So which one does Google index? This is what’s changing. More searches are made on mobile devices than on PCs now, so it seems reasonable for the mobile version to be the primary one which is indexed and ranked. And that’s exactly what’s about to happen.

Google stresses that ‘desktop sites’ will still also be included in the index, but they won’t be visited as quickly.

One result of all this is likely to be that sites which look good and work well on mobile devices will get even more priority on mobile searches. So if your site doesn’t change at all for mobile devices, and is just unreadably tiny text (like the example of the old page on our site, below), then expect it to struggle in the results on mobile devices too.

A reminder that you can check up what Google ‘sees’ on your site, with its mobile device indexing system, using Google Search Console. You’ll find it under ‘Crawl’ and ‘Fetch As Google’:

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Discussion

  1. Steve

    Ummmm. Hello Chris

    I can understand that across all Google searches this may be true, but is it also true for B2B product searches? What happened to market segmentation?

    I just checked, and for the last three months, our Google Analytics say 77% of our visitors used a desktop compared to 20% mobile and 3% tablet. I understand that customers may have found us on their mobile then viewed the details on their desktop monitor, but I have no way of knowing.

    We use WordPress and it seems to be good at presenting across platforms. I’m not convinced we should optimise for the mobile searches just yet, so is having a mobile optimised sub-domain a possibility?

  2. Chris Rand Post author

    WordPress itself isn’t intrinsically good at presenting across platforms, that’s down to the theme you’re using on WordPress. But if you have a good, responsive theme, it should be fine. If your theme is just presenting the desktop content in a different format to mobile devices, and the content is the same, then that’s all good, and this change won’t affect you.

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