Google's Mobile-First index has been in the pipeline for over seven years, and now the switch seems imminent. Only 40% of the top 100,000 websites are responsive and a gargantuan 91% of websites that redirect to mobile don’t use Google’s recommended HTTP Header. With these in mind, here’s a vital mobile-first checklist that you should make sure to sift through if you have not yet optimized your website for the future.
1. Go responsive
Mobile sites need to do everything the desktop site can do. The simplest way is to use a responsive design that allows one site to flex between devices.
Those with a responsive or dynamic-serving site, where the primary content and markup are the same across desktop and mobile versions, ought to deal with the indexing change with few issues.
I wouldn’t say that there are nasty surprises to come, but the main crux is you have to look at a responsive approach. If you have got an unresponsive site, with static HTML, you could be looking at a car crash.
2. Synchronise your content
If desktop and mobile sites are to remain separate, they need to feature entirely the same content. If there is any difference, it should be in favour of the mobile site, which is going to be the primary site from now on. Update the mobile site first to ensure it’s as fresh as possible.
3. Make sure to crawl your own website
If your website is dynamic, run a web crawl and an analytics crawl. The first will compare the architecture, linking structure and crawlability of the desktop and mobile versions. The second will check if you have mobile equivalents for important desktop pages.
4. Work on your site’s speed
Page speed has been a ranking factor for Google since 2010, and under mobile-first, the onus will be on zippy mobile pages. Developers need to think of clever ways to get that speed up, investing in AMP where appropriate - Google preloads AMP pages, images and scripts to force them to be fast - and likewise pre-loading content into CSS files for rapid access.
5. Go up and beyond responsive
Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) effectively provide an app-like experience on the mobile web, working on or offline and leaving behind many of the inherent limitations of the web. If you’re planning for the future anyway, look into PWAs.
You can find the full white paper here.
By Eoin O'Neill, Head of SEO at Tug Agency
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