If you find yourself wondering, “Is my website mobile-friendly?”, you’re not alone! In recent years, Google has turned to a mobile-first indexing method that has left many people wondering the same question. Luckily, there are a few best practices you can follow to make your website mobile-friendly and ensure that it is appearing correctly to users.
Keep reading to learn more about the shift to mobile-first indexing and how to make websites mobile-friendly.
The Rise of Mobile-First Indexing
With such a mobile-centric world, it’s no surprise that Google began shifting its focus toward mobile-friendly websites. The world waited with bated breath to see just how Google planned to make this change, and, in 2016, we got our answer.
Near the end of 2016, Google announced that it would be switching to a mobile-first indexing approach. Gone were the days of prioritizing desktop website versions first. Instead, Google began searching for websites that created content intended to work well on the smaller screen of a phone. This shift started slow, with websites falling into a testing phase to see just how this indexing would work.
For the next two years, Google meticulously rolled out this new strategy until mobile-first indexing was almost fully implemented in 2018. Over 50% of websites were being indexed using this new approach at the end of the year. By March of 2020, that number had increased to over 70% and mobile-first indexing had become the default.
In July of 2020, Google made another announcement — a complete switch to mobile-first indexing by March of 2021. While the initial goal was to have this shift done by September of 2020, unprecedented times pushed the deadline back. However, this timeline change gave people more time to make their websites mobile-friendly, which brings us to the next section of this article. Read on to learn how to make existing websites mobile-friendly.
How to Make Websites Mobile-Friendly
If your website was not initially built to be mobile-friendly, never fear — you still have time to update your website! Google has released an extensive list of the best practices you can follow to make your website mobile-friendly.
Test-Run Your Website
The first step in making your website mobile-friendly is to understand where your content lies currently. Google offers a Mobile-Friendly test tool that will allow you to view what Google sees when it looks at your website. You can use this tool to pinpoint areas of improvement that can help make your site just a little more user-friendly for mobile devices.
Update Robots Meta Tags
Robots meta tags, such as the “noindex” tag, are a great way to prevent content from being crawled by Googlebots. However, these can also prevent bots from crawling the content needed to make your website mobile-friendly. Google recommends verifying that your meta tags aren’t blocking any necessary links are available for indexing.
In addition to meta tags, your robots.txt file should allow Googlebots to crawl your website. Blocking specific URLs with your robots.txt can prevent Google from indexing all of the files it needs to ensure your content is ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs). If you have URLs blocked that are hindering your website, you’ll need to access and edit your robots.txt file.
Unfortunately, mobile websites often rely on lazy-loading more than desktop versions. However, this can hinder your website’s functionality. While lazy-loading may be okay for images or videos, mobile users are often seeking immediate results. This means that your primary content should not be taking too long to load. Longer loading times may cause users to click away from your site before they even read your content.
Having different mobile and desktop versions can hinder the visibility of your website. With the mobile-first indexing approach, your desktop version is likely to be pushed to the back burner. Instead, stay consistent with content. Make sure that your desktop and mobile versions are the same to ensure both types of users have access to your website.
Verify Structured Data
Your structured data should follow the consistency rule. Both your mobile and desktop versions should use the same structured data to ensure your website looks nearly identical for all users. Additionally, you’ll want to verify the URLs in your structured data. Inaccurate URLs can cause loading errors on your website and hinder usability.
The final step in making your website mobile-friendly is to ensure your media is structured and loading properly. Google has set standards for both images and videos to ensure that they are formatted correctly and are not slowing your website speed.
Fortunately, Google makes it as easy as possible to transition your existing website into a mobile-friendly platform. And if you’re not familiar with all these methods, there are experienced technical SEO teams out there that can help you create the best website for your users. Our team at Markitors has the skills needed to keep your mobile users happy! Contact us today to learn more about our SEO services and how we can help your website grow.