GOOGLE

Google Sending Notices to Sites with Mobile-First Indexing Issues

MARCH 26, 2020 | 2 MINUTES TO READ

Kevin Dean

President, WSI Net Advantage
mobile first indexing
Summary: Did you receive a notice from Google stating that you have mobile-first indexing issues? Learn what to do and how to get your site ready for mobile-first.

Google is sending out notices to sites that have mobile-first indexing issues. If you are one of them, you are probably wondering what you can do to get your site ready for mobile-first indexing. Google’s notice should include the areas that need your attention, but there are other things you can do to prepare your site. In the end, these improvements will lead to optimized webpages that are visible in the search results. 

Let’s cover the basics on mobile-first indexing, what it means for your site and how to optimize your webpages accordingly.

What is Mobile-First Indexing?

Mobile-first indexing is not another type of indexing. Instead, it means that the mobile version of your website is the one Google will include in their index. The reason why it’s called “mobile-first” is because if a site doesn’t have a mobile-friendly version, the desktop version can be included in the index. That said, a lack of mobile friendliness will have a negative impact on your site.

You can also think of “mobile-first” as referring to the primary version of your website. Therefore, if your desktop and mobile sites are equal, you shouldn’t see any major differences in how your website performs in the search results. On the other hand, if your mobile site doesn’t have as much content as your desktop site, you could see a drop in rankings when your site makes the switch.

Bottom line: Mobile-first indexing means that Google will crawl and index your mobile site first. This is why having a mobile-optimized site is more important than ever.

I Received a Notice from Google. Now What?

Google is planning on moving all sites to mobile-first by the end of 2020. More than half of sites have already made the switch. Currently, Google is sending out notices to webmasters that have mobile-first indexing issues. The issues are listed out, making it easy to determine what areas require your attention.

As long as you address the noted issues, you can ensure a smooth transition to mobile-first indexing and similar or better placement in the SERPs. Some common errors you may have on your site include video issues, missing images and page quality issues. If you need help updating your website, contact your web developer for assistance.

Tips for Optimizing Your Website for Mobile-First 

As your web developer makes updates to your site, now is also a good time to go through your pages and make sure they offer a mobile-friendly experience. When your website is easy and enjoyable to use, people will spend more time on it, increasing conversions and sales.

Below are the best ways you can optimize your site for mobile-first indexing:

  • Speed up your site. People don’t want to wait for content to load, so if it takes any longer than a few seconds, your bounce rate will skyrocket. Here are some ways to make your site faster.
  • Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) load faster than regular HTML, plus Google caches your content. If you use WordPress, you can use this plugin to convert your pages to AMP.
  • Enable compression. By enabling compression, you can reduce the size of your CSS, HTML and JavaScript files.
  • Reduce redirects. Redirects send visitors to another page, making them wait longer to get the content they want. Reduce redirects as much as possible.
  • Optimize code. You can significantly improve speed by optimizing code, including removing spaces, commas and other unnecessary characters.
  • Manage your content. If you don’t have a responsive site, this probably means you’re serving different content on your desktop and mobile versions. Ideally, both sites should have the same information. Even if you have a responsive site, there are some tweaks you’ll want to make to ensure a great experience. These include:
  • No Flash. A high percentage of people can’t see Flash content, so why use it? For interactive elements, use HTML5 or Java instead.
  • Use accordion and drop-down menus. You will not be penalized for “hiding” content on your site, as mobile sites are supposed to be simple and clutter free. To help with this, use accordion or drop-down menus.
  • Go easy on pop-up ads. Pop-ups can be effective at times, but limit your use of them and make it easy to close out of them. There’s nothing more frustrating that a pop-up that blocks content.
  • Make everything “finger friendly.” This includes text, form fields, CTA buttons and other elements. Users should have no problem tapping their way through your site.
  • Streamline the checkout process. Be sure your checkout process is fast and easy on mobile. This lowers barriers to conversions and makes shoppers happy. Ways to do this include asking for less information at checkout, avoiding pop-ups and allowing customers to check out as a guest.
  • Don’t block CSS, JavaScript or images. Because smartphones are incredibly powerful, there is no need to block these elements. In addition, Googlebot can handle them. By including all of these elements, you can ensure nothing is missed for indexing purposes.
  • Think from a mobile-first perspective. Take some time to use your site from the eyes of a mobile visitor. Does your navigation make sense? Are the links, buttons, form fields, etc. easy to click? Remember, just because a site is responsive does not make it mobile friendly.

Did you receive a notice from Google saying that your site has mobile-first indexing issues? Or perhaps you just want to make sure that your site is ready for mobile-first indexing. Either way, WSI Net Advantage is here to help! We’ll make sure that your site successfully migrates to mobile-first indexing with no problems. Call us today or fill out our contact form to learn more.

About the Author

Kevin Dean, President of WSI Net Advantage…

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