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Mobile-first indexing: What does it mean for your b2b website?

  • by Ali Qamar
  • 27th Apr 2018
    • Brand Growth, Web and Digital

After 18 months of experimentation and testing, Google finally announced the rollout of mobile-first indexing on March 26th.

A product manager at the company first talked about this change in November 2016, highlighting that the majority of people were searching the web on mobile devices and suggesting it was time to give preference to the mobile version of a page rather than the desktop version.

Now that it’s finally here, we’re looking at what mobile-first indexing means for b2b marketers and how it will affect search rankings, as well as exploring a few things you should be aware of with regards to maintaining and improving your search rank.

What is mobile-first indexing?

Many questions have been asked about mobile-first indexing and rightly so – this is a major shift in how Google evaluates webpages. The search giant has been urging us to make sure websites are ‘mobile-friendly’ since 2015, when the so-called Mobilegeddon prompted a brief panic among marketers and business owners. This latest announcement is likely to cause similar concerns for those b2b marketers who, although aware of the need to test on mobile, still work on their company websites using predominately larger screen sizes.

First of all, mobile-first indexing is exactly what it says on the tin. It simply means that when Google bots crawl your website, they will now come to the mobile version first. Your search ranking will be determined by what they find there. If you keep an eye on your crawlbot traffic, like we do, you might see an increase in traffic from the smartphone agent going forward. Historically, Google primarily used the desktop version of a page to evaluate the relevance of the content to a user’s search.

Mobile-first indexing does not mean there will be different indexes for mobile and desktop, however. Google will continue to maintain one search index. The difference is that its algorithms will now concentrate on the mobile version of a site’s content to rank the pages.

What does mobile-first indexing mean for your site?

If your website is responsive and optimised, the good news is you’re already set up for mobile-first indexing. If your website is not responsive, Google will still crawl your desktop site and rank it accordingly. However, you’ll need to put more focus on optimising for mobile in order to maintain your position in the ever-changing search engine rankings.

We recommend using the launch of mobile-first indexing to check your b2b website is firing on all cylinders this month. Here are few points to consider:

  • Make sure your website images are optimised for mobile, check page load speeds, review the structure of the site and consider the overall user experience you’re providing.
  • You should also make sure the responsive mobile version of your website contains the same content as your desktop site.
  • If you still maintain a separate mobile site (a rarity these days), you need to make sure the mobile site contains all the valuable content that exists on your desktop site. Check that all the formats used on the mobile site are crawlable and indexable, for example by making sure all images are mobile optimised and given alt tags. Your structural data should be identical to the desktop site and your meta data should also be equivalent.
  • If you do have a separate mobile site, it’s also important to use the correct hreflang attribute and social meta data, as per your desktop site.
  • Have a look at Google’s best practice guidelines for mobile-first indexing – and make sure your web developer is familiar with them too!

Now the mobile-first indexing rollout is underway, it’s worth keeping an eye on the Google Search Console to see any notifications regarding your site. You’re likely to see a significant increase in the crawl rate from the smartphone Google bot, and you’ll notice that Google will start to show the mobile version of pages in search results and cached pages over the coming months.

Of course, if you’re still unsure whether your b2b website is working as well on mobile as it is for your desktop audience, now is the time to act.

We can advise or assist you with any b2b website query – get in touch today to talk to one of our experts.