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Small Businesses In The Crosshairs: Are You Vulnerable To The Mobile-First Index?

Is your website ready for the 2018 Google switch to a Mobile-First Index? And what the heck is the mobile-first index anyway?

Everyone knows getting up there on the mighty “Google” can be difficult. And you probably also know it’s just as difficult to stay there. Things shuffle, new kids come on the block, others leave. The deck constantly reshuffles. But what about those of us(me included), that aren’t ranking very well anyway? Is this something we should be concerned with, plan for, and maybe even act on?

 

Signs Point To Yes

Magic 8 Ball Toy

 

The Short Answer

If you are one of my clients reading this, no…. you have nothing to worry about. If you aren’t, then maybe… Email me with your website address and I’ll take a look free of charge.

 

The Long Answer

Websites that aren’t responsive and Mobile Friendly are at most risk. While we can’t really tell the future, anyone aware of what this is(even generally speaking) can understand. A change in a core system like this could easily have negative impacts on the older websites out there. So yes! This should be on your radar, and your website needs reviewed by a professional.

 

Ok I’m Listening..  How Long Do I Have?

Google never gives specific dates. But for awhile now the unofficial position from John Mueller, a Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google has consistently been early 2018, if all things go as planned. How things are going is obviously held very closely by Google. He made it clear, though, one of their main goals is a smooth transition for website owners. He has also said they want to give us some time to not only heed their warnings, but to also act. Pretty reasonable if you ask me. This has been in the works for quite some time, and I’m positive they are already doing tests in the wild. But I would aim for early 2018(shocker!), and no later than mid 2018.

 

What’s All The Fuss About?

Let’s say you’re a business that specializes in purple polka-dotted blankets. Right now, your website is recognized by Google to some degree or another, as an entity relating to those kind of blankets. How Google comes to understand your relation to purple polka-dotted blankets is beyond the scope of this post. But the point is this, most, if not every metric Google uses to understand and rank your website has been collected over the years from users that were using a desktop computer. Click through rate, Bounce rate, Quality Score, Time to load, just to name a few.

Fast forward to after the switch. Three areas that are most troublesome are Google’s ability to understand what your site is all about, it’s speed, and bounce rate.

 

A Website Is An Entity

If for some reason purple polka-dotted blankets are not being represented well when being viewed on a mobile device, there is a high chance your website will lose some authority or relevance to such blankets. I mean it’s understandable right? I know Google is going all A.I. nowadays, but I don’t think it is capable of concepts like “don’t just a book by its cover”. More along the lines of Popeye, “You are what you are”.

 

Speed

This is big. The speed available to most home internet connections is vastly superior to what our mobile carriers provide. It’s so important that Google has themselves identified there’s a problem, and explored many different possible solutions. AMP being one of them. They also offer a free speed test for the sole purpose of scoring website speed.

 

Stay Awhile Won’t cha

If your website is simply unusable for the average user on a mobile device, the most popular button people hit when viewing your website won’t even be ON your website. A back button in less than a couple seconds is pretty telling as far as Google is concerned.

 

Conclusion

Being known for a certain product, type of products, or service is absolutely critical to your website rankings. Google’s algorithm is developed to provide results largely based off of one question, beyond all others. Is it relevant?

Modifying the responsive/mobile version of a website has always been normal in this industry. An approach to solving problems that will always be accepted for sure. But the days of hiding information on mobile devices to either solve problems, or help a business achieve a perceived benefit is no longer an option.

One last parting thought. If your website isn’t responsive already, and you’ve been on the fence about a redesign, go ahead and make a call to someone. A lot of web designers/developers (myself included) have responded to the market and really embraced a strategy first approach. This means your website is built from the ground up to work for your business, AND its branding or “image” needs.

 

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