Mobile-first indexing now default for new domains
Google announced this week that starting on July 1st, 2019, new domains will be indexed following their mobile-first guidelines.
Mobile-first indexing has been coming for some time and reflects the web’s evolution towards not just a device-agnostic approach to design and development, but also prioritizing the mobile experience.
What this means for existing domains
If your website isn’t following best practices for mobile (responsive) design and/or has a poor user experience for those viewing your pages on their handheld devices, you’d better get on that pretty quick because your visibility on SERPs could start to tank in favour of your competition.
Otherwise, it’s status quo.
If everything seems fine, then moving forward, any indexing issues that Google identifies when it last crawled your site will be communicated to you through a Search Console notification. Checking your indexing status on a regular basis keeps you on top of any issues.
Still have an m.dot site? Step up!
Google will still support subdomains and m.dot domains that serve mobile versions of websites, so anyone behind in the race won’t suddenly see their mobile version disappear from SERPs.
That said, they also strongly urges owners to eliminate their m.dots in favour of a main site that is responsive, which isn’t only better for your SEO and UX, but why maintain two sites when you don’t have to anyway, right?
Don’t make the mobile experience an afterthought
When planning and building your website, you want to ensure the result is the same for everyone: a site that looks AND functions well for ALL devices without sacrificing performance and UX for those on their handhelds.
This is why even though I get and am obviously on board with ‘mobile first’ as a rule, I prefer to look at it as being ‘device agnostic’.
However you look at it, don’t lose sight of your mobile experience, even if your analytics tells you that most of your audience are using desktop computers to view your site. It may very well be that converting to one, responsive site will go a long way to improving those numbers for you.
Here’s another nugget for ya: SEO and mobile best practices isn’t all about the technical stuff, either.
It’s also critical that your content strategy pays attention to mobile practices for user flow and calls to action. Serving your visitors just a smaller version of a desktop experience isn’t a great plan for converting them.
Stay on top of your page speed
Your site’s page speed is also a ranking signal and as such impacts your SEO. Even if your site looks great on a smartphone, slow page loading times and bloat under the hood can result in high bounce rates and low conversions and that was even before mobile-first got the green light.
SEO and performance resources
If you need a hand with improving your site’s mobile experience and SEO, try any or all of the following:
- Google Page Speed Insights
- W3 Total Cache
- YOAST SEO plugin for WordPress
- Cloudflare CDN
- WP Performance
- Smush Image Compression and Optimization for WordPress