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What is Google’s mobile first index?

In November 2016, Google announced that their ranking systems will change to put mobile first.

As more people are browsing the internet from a mobile device, Google has recognised that their current ranking system does not necessarily provide the best results when viewed on a mobile phone.

Currently, websites are ranked by the desktop version of the page only, which doesn’t provide a fair evaluation if the mobile page has less content than the desktop page. To ensure people are always presented with the more relevant and useful information, Google’s algorithms will begin evaluating the actual page that is seen by a mobile searcher. In time, the mobile site will be primarily ranked to understand structured data, and to show snippets from the site in its search results. This means that Google’s crawlers will index pages from the mobile perspective first.

If the desktop and mobile site are the same, companies shouldn’t see a change in ranking, however, if the mobile page has less content than the desktop page, you can expect to see a drop in your search engine positon.

How to prepare for Google’s Mobile-First Index

If you haven’t done so already, it’s vital that you invest in a responsive web design and implement dynamic serving. Besides making sure your WordPress website is mobile friendly, you need to ensure it is properly optimised and displaying the same level of content that the desktop version does.

Technical SEO considerations

Improving your site loading speed is a critical element to consider in preparation for Google’s mobile-first index.

To speed up your current site, you should do the following:

1. Activate browser caching

Caching enhances the performance of your website without forfeiting anything in the process. When it’s used correctly, it can significantly increase the page loading times, decrease the load on your server, and provide a better user experience to your visitors. You can read more about browser caching here.

2. Decrease HTTP requests

You should look at ways to decrease HTTP requests that can lead to a sluggish site.  Fixing broken links, reducing the number of images per page or showing fewer posts per page are easy ways to do this.

3. Optimise Images

You should always resize each image you intend to use before uploading it to your database by compressing the file. Using the right image format – JPEG, PNG, GIF or SVG – can also significantly reduce the file size and increase your site’s speed.

You can test the current speed of your site here.

Local SEO Considerations

Search engines are used every day to find the best local businesses and services in their area. If you’re primarily targeting a local audience, you can help increase your chances of being found by utilising local SEO tactics. Here’s a few simple ways to improve your chances of ranking highly within local search.

1. Add a Google Map to your website

Adding a Google Map to your website will improve your local ranking by telling users and search engines your relevance, distance, and prominence. These factors are combined to help find the best match for a search.

2. Including all relevant contact information on the website

As with Google Maps, displaying your contact information – including your full address and phone number – will help from a local SEO perspective.

3. Integrating customer reviews on the website

Customer reviews are an important signal for Google and can significantly influence where you are ranked. Consider seeing up a Google My Business to enhance local search. It’s free to set up and is one of the best things you can do to improve local SEO visibility.

If you need assistance getting your website ready for Google’s Mobile First Index, speak to WP Tech Support. We will carry out an initial SEO audit on your website and do the necessary work to improve your search visibility. Find out more about how we can help your business here.

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