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5 Steps To Optimizing Your Site For Google’s Mobile-First Index

Derek Robinson

By Derek Robinson

Google is now testing the mobile-first index officially. This simply means that it is a good time to actually jump in to the mobile-friendly bandwagon before it’s too late. The most important thing is to know where to start. Well, the following are 5 steps to optimizing your site for Google’s mobile-first index.

 

Google introducing the mobile-first index and testing is big news in the World Wide Web. The new index is expected to first prioritize the mobile friendly website version for ranking signals before it moves to the desktop version if there is no mobile site.

 

For some time, Google has been hinting on its move towards the mobile-first index. The first hint was about one year ago but on 4th November, Google posted more details about this index on their blog. If you have been reluctant in joining the mobile-friendly sites revolution, this would be the perfect time to do so. Mobile devices have now dominated searches and this means Google and other search engine will be prioritizing mobile. If your business does not have a mobile website; you might witness a reduction in traffic due to ranking.

 

Following the steps below will help you a great deal in putting your website in line with the new changes.

  1. Work On Speed

Statistics indicates that 2 seconds is the acceptable threshold for ecommerce websites. Google aims for half a second. This is because users have grown to look forward to fast loading sites. If your website loads fast, it will be ranked on mobile. There are a number of things that you need to consider when you are working on the page speed optimization.

Images should be optimized

large images will slow down your site.  To be on the safe side, you should ensure that all the images on your site are the right size.

Minify the code

This simply means that all unnecessary characters should be eliminated from the source code without a change in functionality.

Browser caching Leverage

Browser caching will store resource files from web pages on the local computer when users visit the web pages.

Redirects reduction

When there are too many redirects, the site will reload more and this can slow down the user’s experience.

  1. Avoid Blocking Images, JavaScript or CSS

Initially, with the earlier mobile designs, it was helpful to block these three elements. This is because they brought with them issues that led to a slow site. Luckily, today, this is not the case.

 

Today, the mobile devices that people own are actually more powerful than the computers users own. This means they can handle just about anything you throw at them. Since GoogleBots can see them and would like to categorize the same content users do, it is important that these elements are not hidden.

  1. Work on a Mobile Design

SEO has evolved from being a technical skill to what can be referred to as an art. The modern SEO has to understand how to code, the ranking signals and figure out how design can be used for the benefits of ranking.

 

Mobile design has become a form of art. Designing a responsive site is a good idea and it does not matter which process you use. There are important steps that can assist you in mobile site design optimization for the search.

Ditch Flash

It is important to note that Apple already killed flash for mobile. Most mobile phone users will not see the flash elements and it is, therefore, important to get rid of them. If you still need the cool elements on your site, you can use Java or HTML 5.

Remove Pop-ups

It is important to generate leads but you need to know that pop-ups on a mobile site will be a frustration to the visitors. Frustrated users will just leave your site for your direct competitor. Pop-ups can lead to high bounce rates and this will greatly affect your ranking.

Design For Fingers

As you design, keep in mind that your target audience will mostly be using their fingers to navigate. This tells you that your design should be as finger friendly as possible. All users want to tap with ease without having to deal with the annoying accidental taps.

  1. Focus on On-page Optimization

There is less room to work with when you are dealing with mobile search engine result pages. For this particular reason, it is important that you keep your descriptions and titles as brief and as concise as possible.

This is for purposes of allowing GoogleBot to quickly understand what your page is all about and letting your visitors know who you are. This will result in improved ranking and higher click-through rate.

  1. Don’t forget About Local Optimization

Google released Possum in September and this has become a huge update in local search algorithm. If you are interested in increasing the foot traffic to your physical store, you should pay attention to mobile search.  According to statistics by Google researchers, it is clear that most local searchers are ready follow the search with an action.

 

The statistics indicate that 50% of users who perform local searches using their phone visit a physical store within a period of one day. About 34% of those who searched using desktops or laptops did the same. This shows that local businesses will greatly benefit from the new mobile-first index.

 

To increase the mobile visibility of your website, the following are some of the things you should pay attention to:

 

City and state in the title tag

Business Name, Phone and Address

City and state in the H1 heading

City and state in the meta description

City and state in the URL

City and state in the alt tags

City and state in content

 

There is still a lot to be learned as Google is experimenting with the mobile index. The best step is to start making the necessary changes now to increase your sites visibility before the changes take complete effect.  You should not sit and wait until the changes are complete because this means your competitors might beat you to it and recovering will be a more difficult task than just starting making the necessary changes early.

 

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