The mobile-first approach has been an essential subject for optimizing the performance and quality of your website. Developments and monitoring of Google deployment, best practices for web design and SEO, or how to update your existing site? Online Media Trend takes stock for you.
Mobile First, a long-term Google project
Since November 2016 all web players have been talking about the mobile-first index, presented by Google.
The new announcement.
Google’s desire with the implementation of the mobile-first approach is to change the way websites are browsed. And by extension are referenced by robots. For this, we are moving from an exploration initially based on the desktop version. Towards an exploration now focused on the mobile version of the sites.
This evolution makes it possible to respond to the behavior of users who increasingly use their mobile devices and smartphones. In fact, constantly increasing in recent years, the use of mobile internet reached a rate of 88.7% in 2021. And continues to grow, especially about visits to e-commerce sites.
With full deployment initially announced for September 2020, the IMF (Index Mobile First) project has unfortunately fallen behind schedule.
Google teams announced in 2020 that nearly 70% of the sites already crawled by the Googlebot for smartphones. The wish is therefore to increase this rate to 100% by 2021.
Best practices for mobile-first
Since the launch of the project, Google has communicated widely, through its blog and the posts of its experts, on the advice and best practices to be followed so that the transition to the mobile-first index takes place under the best conditions.
Among these recommendations, some obvious things like making sure that Google robots can easily access and display your content, whether it is identical on computer or mobile. You must therefore ensure, for example, that your structured data and your metadata are identical on both desktop and mobile.
You will also be able to find out if your site is already crawled by the Googlebot for smartphones, or not from this tool.
Favor the responsive over the mobile version
If the main recommendation is to have a site whose content is identical between the desktop version and the mobile version, the real good practice is to favor a responsive web design approach, rather than using dedicated URLs for the mobile.
Indeed, in the case of a responsive website, we have the advantage of having content that gradually adapts to the size of the screen. The URL is therefore identical regardless of the type of device used to consult the site. This allows, among other things, to avoid errors related to metadata (title and description) and other Meta tags, in particular no index, which may prevent robots from crawling your mobile pages correctly.
Having a responsive site rather than a site with a separate desktop and mobile version is also a good practice in terms of loading time, which is a determining criterion for your positioning. Indeed, the work of crawling the Google robot and indexing your content is simplified since it only has one version of each URL to visit!
Responsive design is, for all these reasons, the best solution to optimize your SEO potential. it is always more pleasant to navigate on a responsive site from a user point of view, the content of which will be identical between two visits made from different devices.
User experience takes precedence over design
As we know, user experience is at the heart of Google’s concerns.
It is in this direction that the latest developments of the giant go, such as the update “Google Page Experience” (link?) Which aims to fully integrate the user experience as an SEO criterion.
Regarding the mobile-first index, the user experience is also a major issue. It is no longer a question of offering beautiful sites above all, but rather functional sites, which will make it easy for users to find the information they are looking for.
Indeed, since the beginning of the IMF project, Google has promoted the indexing of sites that adapt to the screen of mobile devices. Unfortunately, they are not always functional. Better therefore a site with a simpler design but on which navigation or even access to the menu will be easier.
Mobile-first is a way of thinking when creating a website
If you are thinking about creating a site or redesigning an existing site, now is the best time to look at the mobile-first concept, which should be a pillar of your design strategy.
As we have seen previously, building a site designed for mobile-first and foremost (“mobile-first”) will allow you to more easily meet the latest requirements of Google, and therefore of your future users. Consider simplifying navigation, reducing the graphics on your site and other resources that may be superfluous with a responsive site. You will thus benefit from better visibility than with a simple “mobile-friendly” site.
Attention point: there is a significant difference between a mobile-friendly site whose mobile version is designed after the desktop version. And a mobile-first site that favors the reflection and design of the site around the version. mobile before thinking about the desktop version.
On the other hand, if you already have a site with a dedicated mobile version and you just want to adapt it to the latest Google requirements without embarking on a redesign project, there are as we have just seen some interesting axes on which you can improve yourself.
Modify an existing site to make it mobile-first compliant
Here we have two main cases:
- You have a website that is not yet mobile compatible: your best option is to switch to a Responsive site.
- Do you already have a website with a mobile version that you want to improve? Take it step by step.
To adapt your site to the requirements of the Mobile-First Index. Define a clear process that will allow you to efficiently follow each step of your project. Here are 4 stages:
- The audit. It will allow you to have a precise inventory of your site (architecture, performance, quality of content, indexing, etc.). At the end of this audit, your SEO expert will be able to identify all the potential optimizations. You can then take the next step!
- Prioritization of actions. Some elements are more strategic than others in terms of investments and profits. Identifying them and ranking them in order of priority will allow you to build an SEO roadmap consistent with your challenges and business goals.
- The optimization phase. This operational step must be carried out daily. Your experts will support you in setting up and monitoring the action plan that you have defined together.
- Analysis of the results. This step of reporting and monitoring performance is essential to observe changes. But also to adjust your strategy and your action plan if necessary. Analysis and reporting should be done in parallel with the optimization phase and at regular intervals to ensure best results.
In conclusion, Google has favored mobile versions of websites for several years now. Soon all of the sites referenced on its search engine will be explored in their mobile version. It is therefore important, if this is not yet the case, to take into account the recommendations of Google experts. And to adapt or create your site with a Mobile-First approach.