We know that Google’s mobile-first index is coming. As is the norm with Google, we are not sure when. At the SMX Advanced Conference in Seattle in June, Gary Ilies said the launch would probably take place in early 2018.
But we can expect a fairly soft roll on this, and it’s also likely that Google will provide webmasters with a lot of guidance, as it’s a big step forward with the ability to create havoc for a lot of great websites if they Let’s get it wrong.
With that timeline in mind, there are things you can do now so that you can be ready to switch to the mobile-first index. We are assuming that you have a dedicated mobile (m.) Website or, still, a responsive site. If not, you want to get that serialization before continuing this article. Google also gives you a tool to see if you’re doing it well:
Getting ready to move to the mobile-first index and optimizing for it are two different things. Here are five great strategies you can implement right now that will ensure, when the time comes, you are not only mobile-first ready, but your site set to set maximum conversions and steal a march on the competition is.
Optimize your site for mobile-first index
1. Speed up your site
There are a variety of strategies for getting ready for the mobile-first index. When it comes to conversions and overall user experience (UX), we recommend starting with the speed of your site, focusing specifically on mobile.
We suggest four ways to speed up your site on mobile:
Thanks to the par-down HTML used by AMP, it allows you to load your web pages much faster than regular HTML. Google caches your content in its own cache to make load time even faster. All of this is the result of a very fast, sleek user experience and should, in turn, lead to improved visibility into search results.
While some of the problems about display URLs have been widely reported (visitors see a cached Google URL when they load an AMP page), traffic is still directed to your site. Google has since implemented an update where users sharing the URL will share the publisher’s own link instead of the cached Google URL.
A term introduced in SMX Seattle by Google’s Gary Ilies, PWAMP AMP is a combination of PWA built on HTML, JS and CSS. Although PWAMP sites may not be as valid as AMP pages, they are blazing fast and provide all the benefits of PWA listed above. They may have to keep an eye on the future. Read more about PWAMP here.
Do not do anything
We will always recommend a full audit of your mobile site before deciding on any possible new avenues.
2. Manage your content for mobile
If you are currently using a different meter. If so, you will be most affected by moving to the mobile-first index. Your current ranking is based on your desktop content. If some of them are missing on mobile, you may not even rank in future.
Even if you have a responsive mobile site, there are design tweaks that you can consider to optimize your mobile experience for conversion. When it comes to managing your content on mobile, there are a few “must haves”:
Use agreement and drop-down menus appropriately
Google has already stated that the site will not be penalized for “hiding” content behind an agreement or drop-down menu. They understand that real estate is limited on mobile, so it makes sense that users do not have to show everything at once. They have also stated that they will crawl all the content contained within the drop-down, so use them wisely as part of your mobile design.
Never use flash
This is a given, but we still see sites that insist on using Flash. Apple killed Flash from mobile, and since Flash content cannot be seen in a high percentage of mobile users, continue to use it? Use HTML5 or Java to add attractive interactive elements that can be super-attractive.
Consider using your pop-up on mobile
There is certainly an argument for the use of pop-ups, especially if lead generation is important to you, however, consider how often they appear and their size and ease of closure.