If you have a business website and want to reach your target demographic, then a solid search engine optimization (SEO) strategy is critical. This is particularly true now that Google’s mobile-first indexing policy is changing how sites are ranked.

In order to adapt to the indexing changes, you must understand both what mobile-first indexing is and to how it will impact your SEO strategy going forward.

Mobile-First Indexing: What is it?

Google’s mobile-first indexing is all about recognizing that more and more people are using their mobile devices, rather than their desktop computers and laptops, to conduct online searches and to peruse online content. One source, in fact, notes that as of last December 82% of online users based in the U.S. conducted their online shopping with a mobile device, and 35% were mobile-only online consumers. What is Google doing about this important trend? It is moving ahead with a strategy to create and rank user-initiated search listings based on mobile versions of content, and this will be the case even in situations where users are using desktops.

What Does it Mean?

As more consumers continue to conduct their searches via smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices, Google desires to see its index and results more accurately reflect the majority of the people conducting searches, namely mobile searchers. So, Google has begun to use the mobile version of the Internet as its main search engine index, thus the term mobile-first index.

Should you not presently have a mobile version of your desktop website, you don’t have to worry needlessly. While it would be a good idea to set out to create a mobile site, Google will, if you only have a desktop site, continue to index your desktop site. Should you have a desktop site and a mobile site, however, you should ensure that the content and URLs are similar enough. This will help Google to rank your mobile site as favorably as it did your desktop site. But what should you do if your mobile site isn’t as comprehensive as your desktop site? Google will index and rank your site based on your mobile site, which can put you at a disadvantage if your mobile site has been, up until now, almost an afterthought compared to your desktop site.


How Will Mobile-First Indexing Impact SEO?

Whether you can do it yourself or you have someone at your company who is responsible for SEO, the good thing is that there are some things that can be done to make mobile-first indexing a friend rather than a foe.

  1.  Content: Don’t only focus on ensuring that the content and links on your desktop site and mobile site are similar. Also, ensure that the content on your mobile site has the same top-quality and useful content that is on your desktop site. This includes things like images, text, and videos. You’ll also want to be mindful so that the formats incorporated into your mobile site are indexable by Google.
  1. App Indexation: Do you already have app indexation assembled for your desktop website? If so, you should verify the mobile site’s connection to app-specific things such as website URLs to app association files. What this will do is ensure that Google can properly index deep links. While you’re at it, don’t forget to use Google Analytics to ascertain important information relating to how people are actually using your app.
  1. Structured Data: Whatever structured data markup you have on your desktop site, you should have on your mobile site. But be careful with URLs. Specifically, you should not use the exact same URLs on mobile sites that you use on desktop sites. Instead, use the mobile version of the links.
  1. Sitemaps: When it comes to sitemaps, ensure that links to them can be accessed from mobile sites. The principle is the same as it relates to, among other things, trust signals such as the URL to the page containing your privacy policy.
  1. Metadata: You’ll want similar titles and meta descriptions on both your desktop site pages and your mobile site pages. They don’t have to be the same, given that you may need to be more brief with mobile site titles and meta descriptions, but they should be similar.
  1. Social Metadata: Social metadata, such as Twitter cards, needs to be featured on both your mobile site and your desktop site.

Google’s mobile-first indexing is something you need to understand and adapt to if your company has a website that serves as your online storefront. Understanding what it is and how it will impact your SEO strategy will give you the information you need to make needed changes so that you can make the most of mobile-first indexing.

If you are working on your mobile site and would like to test how you’re doing, there’s a way that you can check to see if your mobile site is ready for this mobile-first indexing era. All you have to do is try out Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to see just how mobile-optimized your site is…or isn’t. With the results in hand, you can tweak, overhaul, or stay the course.