Google’s Mobile First Index from 03/2021 will be the new crawl standard

Google's Mobile First Index from 03/2021 will be the new crawl standard

Google’s mobile indexing is fast approaching. Originally, Google wanted to completely switch its website crawling from two different crawlers (desktop and mobile) to the mobile bot in September 2020. The deadline has now been pushed back to March 2021. Both better for you, you still have time to prepare your websites for the change. Have no idea how search actually works? Look here.

Why MobileFirst? A definition

Mobile First is a new way of thinking in web design and web design that gives top priority to presenting content on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. This means a natural shift in direction for website development: optimization no longer dictates large desktop screens, but small mobile phone screens.

Why all of this? The user and his behavior are at the center of all content marketing measures, user-centric keywords. The mobile-first approach follows a clear user trend: in 2019, 55.91% of all page views globally came from smartphones and tablets. Mobile Internet has arrived in the global community. Asia is the leader with more than 60% of mobile traffic, followed closely by the African continent.

If you look at the evolution of the mobile internet over the past five years, the picture becomes even clearer: websites are increasingly viewed from smaller mobile devices – and the trend is rising. . And this brings new requirements for web design.

How does good content creation achieve mobile-first?

Our habits of reading, perception and use adapt to the small screen quite naturally and discreetly. So there are several ways to create content that can make this move to mobile much easier. I will give you some practical advice:

  • Use a simple, clean design for easily consumable content: Maintain sharp contrasts and simple lines and shapes throughout. These give the eye more grip than overly detailed photos and graphics or overly small and ornate fonts. UX designers are the best people to talk to about this.
  • Align the length of titles and texts, but also the font size – i.e. the overall layout of an article with the small display size, so that everything is easy to read. This also applies to the text of graphics created by yourself.
  • Formulate headlines with enough click stimulus – the battle for user clicks gets even tougher in the tightest spaces.
  • In addition to high-click titles, also bring even more relevant teaser texts or intros. In this way, it quickly becomes clear what added value your text brings compared to competing pieces on this topic.
  • Avoid long paragraphs. Instead, use short, active sentences and shorter paragraphs. As now, lists and bullets help structure your texts.
  • Add multimedia elements in the text for valuable content: videos, animations, image galleries or information boxes increase the user’s dwell time.

In addition to the content itself, the classic user experience factors naturally also play a role:

Appropriate menu navigation, call-to-actions that invite you to click and contact forms should be designed in such a way that they can also be completed easily on mobile devices. Drop-down lists instead of free text fields can further improve the user experience.

But the best content is useless without a technically sound foundation.

Mobile Optimization: 4 Tips for Technical Setup

Google itself reveals: Currently, 70% of all websites are crawled with the mobile user agent. A third of the pages remain, which are indexed using the desktop crawler. Website owners must now take advantage of this transition period to meet mobile crawling requirements.

1. Responsive design forms the basis

As its name suggests, responsive design technically “reacts” to the properties of the device. Flexible design expands or shrinks with screen width depending on device requirements.

Google has been preaching responsiveness as the new norm for years and has discouraged its own mobile subdomains (also: m-dot domains), which were more common in the beginning. Although Google continues to support separate mobile domains, they should be replaced with long-term responsive domains. It’s good for mobile SEO.

2. Google explores and analyzes errors.

Which crawler is used on my website, desktop or smartphone? Does Google consider my URL mobile-friendly? Webmasters can easily answer these questions in Google Search Console. In the “Improvements” section, the “friendliness on mobile devices” can be checked. If you open the report, you can see how many pages are invalid and valid, as well as how many of your problems. These can be:

  • Clickable elements are too close together (for big thumbs)
  • Text is too small to read (on smartphones)
  • Content is larger than the screen
  • Viewport is not set to device width
  • Incompatible plugins

Once you have prioritized and fixed the errors on your website, you can ask Google to crawl the relevant pages again.

3. Implement the same quality content on every device.

According to Google, however, your mobile content should be the same as your desktop website. For mobile surfing, content elements are sometimes completely hidden for a better user experience. However, it can also happen that longer aligned desktop content is “hidden” in tabs or accordions in the mobile version and only becomes visible when typed. This content is already difficult to crawl, but will not be used to rank in search results in the future.

Why this equality of content? Google doesn’t want to send its users to you, only to find that the content they’re viewing is viewable on the desktop version but not on the mobile version. Therefore, meta tags, structured data, titles and descriptions, images, videos or links should also match for mobile and desktop.

4. Optimize mobile loading times.

Loading speed has been a relevant ranking factor since 07/2018, the introduction of Google’s speed update. In the case of two equally relevant pages, with the same backlinks, etc., Google will favor the faster page. Thus, fast sites have a good chance of appearing in the top 10 of organic results. Google Page Speed ​​​​​​Insights provides a good overview of the load time performance of each URL for desktop and mobile.

Mobile indexing: keep an eye on the rankings

With the shift to mobile-first, your rankings will logically be upended: modern websites with a new and responsive mobile experience might gain visibility in organic search results, while sites with slow mobile performance might experience ranking issues. see. The result can be organic traffic and visibility losses. Which, at worst, are associated with a lower conversion rate.

Do you already know how to keep an eye on your ranking in an optimal way? we rely on Google Data Studio dashboards. In his blog post, Felix tells you which KPIs you can use to track highly individual.

Conclusion: Make good use of the 7 months of transition!

From March 2021, providers whose content can also be optimally displayed on smartphones will undoubtedly have an advantage. The better the mobile optimization, the greater the chances of ranking higher in search results. Mobile laggards and rejecters who do without responsive design and the like will struggle. They are transmitted in the rankings. Compensating for the loss of a leadership position that you may have worked hard for over the years can be costly and time-consuming. Especially when the less sleepy competition is now in your place.

There are still more than six months until Google fully converts to mobile-first indexing. Enough time to tackle larger construction sites and minor cosmetic repairs. Remember when you roll up your webmaster sleeves: a responsive website with identical content for laptop and smartphone and good mobile performance values ​​are the keystone so that there are no unpleasant surprises from of spring 2021.

Instead of panicking and breaking everything “quick and dirty” on your knee, you should instead do a proper and comprehensive mobile optimization of an existing website. This can be done step by step and alongside your priority daily activities.

Do you need support in setting up your SEO and content strategies? Then simply make an appointment to get to know our team of experts:
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