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The Importance of Mobile First Indexing For NZ Websites

Mobile-First-Indexing-Cover-Photo

In today’s digital age, most people access the internet through their mobile devices. As of 2023, more than 57% of all search traffic comes from smartphones.

A recent study has revealed that only 13% of all websites were able to retain their same position across mobile and desktop devices after Google updated its search algorithm by implementing mobile-first indexing for all websites. Thus showcasing the importance of getting your site’s mobile experience and search-engine-friendliness right.

After reading this, you might ask yourself:

    • What is mobile-first indexing, and how does it affect my website? or
    • Do I need to worry about mobile-first indexing to get better search traffic?

    The short answer to this question is: Yes, you need to worry about the overall mobile-friendliness of your website, and yes, mobile-first indexing directly affects your search traffic.

    Here is everything you need to know about mobile-first indexing and how you can be on the winner’s side at the end of the day. This blog post will discuss the importance of mobile-first indexing for NZ websites.

      • What is Mobile First Indexing
      • Importance of Mobile-First Indexing for NZ Websites
      • Best Practices to Follow for Mobile-First Indexing | Google Search Central
      • Has Your Website Switched to Google’s Mobile-First Indexing?
      • How Does Mobile-First Indexing Affect Your Website Ranking on Google?
      • Does Website Design Affect the Overall Mobile Friendliness of a Website?

      What is Mobile First Indexing?

      Mobile-first indexing is a practice implemented by Google where the mobile version of a website is used as the primary source for ranking and indexing a website. This means when Google crawls a site to collect data for its search index, it will use a smartphone crawler instead of a desktop crawler to get the mobile version of the content first. Getting the mobile version of a website first is called mobile-first indexing.

      According to Google:

      “Mobile-first indexing means Google predominantly uses the mobile version of the content for indexing and ranking.”

      Back in 2016, Google first announced that they were changing their search algorithm to improve the search experience for mobile users in an announcement that said:

      “Today, most people are searching on Google using a mobile device. However, our ranking systems still typically look at the desktop version of a page’s content to evaluate its relevance to the user. This can cause issues when the mobile page has less content than the desktop page because our algorithms are not evaluating the actual page that is seen by a mobile searcher.”

      The shift to mobile-first indexing reflects the growing trend of internet users accessing websites from mobile devices over desktops. As of August 2023, Google has now enabled mobile-first indexing by default for all new websites, whether new to the web or previously unknown to Google Search.

      Importance of Mobile-First Indexing for NZ Websites

      These practices are increasingly important as Google moves towards 100% mobile-first indexing, emphasising the need for websites to be optimised for mobile usage.

      Improved User Experience

      A mobile-first approach means prioritising the needs of mobile users over desktop users. With mobile-first indexing, Google bots crawl mobile versions of websites before they crawl desktop versions.

      By doing so, Google ensures that users have access to a site optimised for mobile devices, providing a better user experience. As a result, websites that follow a mobile-first approach often rank higher on Google SERPs.

      Increased Organic Search Traffic

        In New Zealand, mobile internet usage is increasing day by day. So, if your website isn’t mobile-friendly, you risk losing significant traffic. As more and more people shift to mobile devices, having a mobile-first website is essential to remain relevant and competitive.

        Mobile-optimised websites load faster than desktop versions, leading to a better user experience and higher engagement. An improved user experience, in turn, leads to increased traffic and higher engagement rates.

        Lower Bounce Rates

        Bounce rates for your website increase when a user leaves without interacting with your website. A higher bounce rate indicates something wrong with your website’s web design, content, or mobile-friendliness.

        Since mobile users typically have less time and patience than desktop users, they are even more likely to bounce if your content visibility is terrible, the images are too wide, or the website takes too long to load.

        With mobile-first indexing, you can reduce bounce rates by providing mobile users with a site that is easy to navigate, view, and interact with, loads quickly, and offers a seamless user experience.

        A Future-Proof Website

        Mobile-first indexing is not a trend or a passing phase. Mobile websites are a glimpse into the future of web design. As more people turn to mobile devices for browsing, search engines emphasise mobile-optimised sites.

        If you want your website to remain relevant and competitive, you must embrace the mobile-first approach. By prioritising mobile users, you’ll equip your website with the tools it needs to succeed in the future.

        Gaining a Competitive Advantage

        As Google prioritises mobile-friendly sites, businesses with a solid mobile presence will have a competitive edge over those without. By embracing mobile-first indexing, you can stay ahead of competitors who are slow to adapt.

        Boost Local SEO

        Mobile optimisation is particularly crucial for local SEO. Many people conduct local searches on mobile devices, and Google often provides location-based results.

        Therefore, a mobile-optimised website can help attract local customers and drive foot traffic to physical stores.

        Enhanced Social Media Engagement

        Most social media usage happens on mobile devices. If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, it can hinder the effectiveness of your social media marketing efforts, as any links back to your website might provide a poor user experience.

        Best Practices to Follow for Mobile-First Indexing | Google Search Central

        Importance-of-Mobile-First-Indexing-for-New-Zealand-Websites

        Keeping up with Google’s ever-evolving algorithms is crucial for maintaining a competitive edge. One such significant shift is the transition to mobile-first indexing, which has compelled businesses to rethink their SEO strategies and prioritise mobile-friendly websites.

        Here are the 12 best practices you should follow for mobile-first indexing, ensuring your website not only meets Google’s standards but also provides an optimal user experience for your mobile audience:

        1. Use a Responsive Web Design: This ensures your website is displayed correctly across various devices, which is one of the best practices for mobile-first indexing.
        2. Use Separate Mobile and Desktop versions of Your Website (if required): While having a responsive site is ideal, it is not the only option for mobile-first indexing. You can have a separate mobile URL (m.example.com) for your mobile website. This way, you can have a perfect desktop version of your website and a perfect mobile version.
        3. Content Consistency: Ensure your mobile and desktop versions have the same content to provide a seamless user experience.
        4. Importance of Headings: Proper use of headings improves readability and SEO on mobile devices.
        5. Alt Text: Always use alt text for images to help Google understand the content of your visuals, which is essential for mobile indexing.
        6. Placement of Ads: Ad placement should not interfere with content accessibility on mobile devices.
        7. Robots Meta Tags: These tags instruct web robots on indexing and crawling web pages on their websites.
        8. Error Page Status: Make sure the error page status is the same on both mobile and desktop sites
        9. Invisible parts of the page: Avoid using methods that hide parts of the page (robot.txt), as they can impact mobile indexing.
        10. Analyse Google Crawling and Errors: Regularly check Google Search Console for any crawl errors or issues that could affect your mobile site’s indexing
        11. Page Speed: A faster page load speed improves user experience and is a ranking factor for mobile-first indexing.

        Has Your Website Switched to Google’s Mobile-First Indexing?

        How-to-Know-if-my-website-is-mobile-friendly-or-not?

        Checking if your website is mobile-friendly is a straightforward process with several online tools available to aid you. Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test allows you to enter your website’s URL, and it will analyse how well your page performs on mobile devices. Google’s mobile-friendly test can also work on mobile search engines.

        How Can I Check if My Website Is Mobile Friendly or Not Without Using Any Tools?

        Alternatively, you can use your browser to check your site’s mobile responsiveness. This can be done by resizing your browser window to mimic different screen sizes or using the device emulation feature in the developer tools of most modern browsers.

        Note: A mobile-friendly website is not just about shrinking your site to fit on a smaller screen. It should also consider touch controls and load times and ensure all features and content are accessible and functional on mobile devices.

        How Does Mobile-First Indexing Affect Your Website Ranking on Google?

        Mobile-first indexing significantly impacts your website’s traffic on Google, though it’s not a direct ranking factor but an indirect ranking factor (more on that later in the post). It primarily uses the mobile version of your site’s content for indexing and ranking, making it a vital aspect to consider in SEO strategies. This shift means Google’s algorithms prioritise the content from your mobile site when determining your rankings.

        However, it’s important to note that mobile-first indexing is about how Google gathers content, not how it ranks it. Despite this, it directly influences your organic website’s low and overall visibility. The mobile version of your site is now considered the primary version for determining rankings.

        This change can lead to fluctuations in keyword rankings on Google Search Console, positively or negatively affecting your organic traffic. Therefore, understanding and adapting to mobile-first indexing is critical to maintaining and enhancing your site’s SEO performance. You can also have a separate desktop and mobile site. If you don’t, your desktop doesn’t must have a responsive web design.

        Does Website Design Affect the Overall Mobile Friendliness of a Website?

        Does-Website-Design-Affect-the-Overall-Mobile-Friendliness-of-My-Website

        Yes, your website plays a significant role in its mobile-friendliness, affecting user experience, engagement, search rankings, and business metrics like sales and conversions.. Here are some key points to consider:

        • Responsive Design: A responsive web design automatically adjusts the layout based on the device’s screen, size and scripting abilities. This is crucial for creating a mobile-friendly website.
        • Better User Experience: A mobile design with a responsive layout, appealing visuals, engaging content, and a well-thought-out flow will boost your site’s user experience. Better user experience often leads to higher engagement and conversion rates.
        • SEO Friendliness: Mobile-friendly websites positively impact your overall Google ranking. In recent years, mobile-friendliness has become increasingly important in search engine optimisation (SEO).
        • Sales and Conversions: Mobile-friendly websites can boost your sales and conversions due to ease of accessibility.

        Conclusion

        Mobile-first indexing is no longer a choice but is necessary for New Zealand website owners and designers. With the increasing usage of mobile devices, it’s crucial to prioritise the needs of mobile users over desktop users.

        A mobile-first approach helps provide a better user experience, increasing traffic and reducing bounce rates. Also, it future-proofs your website against the changing digital landscape, making it more relevant and competitive. By understanding the importance of mobile-first indexing, you can ensure your website remains discoverable and engaging to users across all devices.