“Mobile first” is Google’s latest philosophy, meaning they’ll be shifting their focus from performance on desktop to the way sites function on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets.
Contrary to popular belief, Google has stated that this latest change to their algorithm is not designed to hurt sites that don’t have a mobile-friendly version, rather they want to ensure that users across mobile and desktop are receiving the same experience with regards to the available content. For any webmasters out there who have created a specific mobile site which strips out big, bulky paragraphs of text that are still accessible on the desktop site, it’s important to note that, following the change, Google will primarily be looking at your mobile site. Anything that appears only on the desktop site will no longer affect your rankings so you could miss out if you strip your mobile site to the bare bones.
In SEO circles, the word “mobile” can strike fear into the heart of even the most battle-hardened of us. Google’s “mobilegeddon” update back in 2015 was one of their biggest updates and affected search results made specifically on mobile devices. It was the first time Google let us know in advance that they would be making such a change. While the impact of ‘mobilegeddon’ was not as immediately far-reaching as many experts predicted, the rollout of version 2 of their mobile algorithm update a year later began to deliver more emphatically on the warning that sites that did not improve their experiences on mobile would be demoted within the mobile results. Google helpfully provided a “mobile-friendly test” via their search console so that webmasters could test the friendliness of their sites and make changes accordingly.
Following this update, many companies went down the mobile site route and created totally new versions of their sites, built specifically for mobile, which were much more lightweight and loaded in an instant over patchy cellular connections. Google’s latest change seeks to combat those companies who have tried to boost their overall rankings by having a separate site for mobile that contains less information, as this is seen as an attempt to cheat the system.
Google now says that mobile users should be able to find all of the information that their desktop counterparts can, even if it is presented in a different way, be that by using drop down menus, concertinas or other design features that make the user experience easier. In essence, as a website owner, you’re expected to include all indexable content on every version of your site, regardless of the device on which it’s viewed or Google won’t give you a second look when it comes to mobile rankings. You can no longer expect to appear in mobile search results just because your desktop site is full of great content, as the Googlebot will no longer take this into account when it looks at your mobile-optimised site if you’ve removed all of that content.
At I-COM, we concentrate on creating sites that look great on both desktop and mobile by utilising mobile responsiveness, which ensures that, while the navigation of a site is different but just as simple on both platforms, the information you can find is the same so your users will never be left endlessly scrolling and ultimately leaving frustrated. This is all handled by the content management system (CMS), using a coding language called CSS, so doesn’t need a separate installation and means that, if you make changes to the site by adding more content, you can rest assured that it will be automatically scaled so that mobile users can enjoy it just as much as desktop users.
If you have any questions about 'Mobile First', please get in touch with our web development team by calling 0161 402 3170. Alternatively, fill in our online contact form and we will get back to you shortly.