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Google shifted to mobile first: what you might not already know

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Google / March 06, 2018

By now you’ve optimized your website for mobile. You’ve adapted your content to be responsive to devices of all shapes and sizes. Or maybe you’ve set up dynamic serving. Or you simply created a mobile (m.website.com) version of your site.

Of course, you’ve already done this, right?

Ok. Maybe some of you haven’t. It’s a big task, and it can be expensive to adjust your website so everything renders properly on a smartphone. We get it.

With Google’s mobile first announcement, you may start to feel the urgency. In early November 2016, Google announced on its Webmaster blog that they were switching to a mobile first index.

What does this mean?

Google’s algorithms have started using the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages, understand structured data, and to display snippets in its results. In other words, no matter how awesomely optimized your desktop page may be, Google is going to prioritize the content that that appears when someone views your website on a smartphone.

If you’re still wrapping your head around ways to make your website more mobile friendly, we’ve written a three-post series covering the basics of mobile SEO.

Responsive vs. dynamic serving, vs. mobile sites

If the mobile terminology in our first paragraph left you confused, here’s a little primer.

Responsive websites are coded to adjust their layout based on which screen size they’re being viewed on. It’s exactly the same site with the same code and URL; the different pieces of the site simply reshuffle and position themselves based on the device that is accessing them.

Dynamic serving will serve different HTML and CSS, based on the device that is accessing your site. In other words, the device sends a call to the server so it knows which type of device is being used. It then pulls and displays code that appears correctly on that device.

Mobile sites are developed specifically for mobile devices. They are hosted on a subdomain, or an entirely separate mobile domain. Either way, they will have a slightly different URL than your desktop domain… something like m.website com or website.mobi.

So what’s best?

Choosing the best responsive adaptation for your website depends on a lot of factors, including the resources you have at your disposal, the type of content on your site, and what your site does (does it sell things, does it host media, etc.?). Take the time to discuss the options with your coders or contractors and truly choose the best option for your organization.

Handy mobile SEO links from Google

Just in case you still have a little work left to do on your mobile experience, Google has offered up a handful of resources to get you started.

Even if you have fully optimized your website for mobile, it’s useful to understand how the folks at Google understand and prioritize websites for mobile indexing. Take the time to read Google’s Mobile SEO Overview; this will align your efforts and help you avoid common mistakes.

Coming next: All the little things you need to think about to make sure your mobile website is ready for mobile-first SEO.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alexandre Maupu

SEO Analyst @ Bloom

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