Mobile First Indexing: The Essential Website Checklist for Google

As SEO and digital marketing professionals, we are constantly talking about the importance of mobile and how you need to make sure your site is fully prepared for the changes that are on the way. It sometimes feels like we overcook it a bit, making it sound like it’s so much more important than it really is.

But no! Mobile is perhaps now the biggest element that you need to consider when it comes to the world of search, and if you choose to ignore it then you are massively setting yourself up for a huge disadvantage in the future.

In our latest blog, we will talk you through our checklist on how to do mobile first indexing correctly.

What is Google Mobile First Indexing?

Mobile first indexing is the way in which Googlebots view a website through a mobile agent. This allows Google to look at a site as a browser that is being used on both Android and iOS mobile devices.

This isn’t something that can be covered just from a technical standpoint either. Websites must be user friendly to those accessing a site through mobile, with Googlebots taking UX (user experience) immensely seriously.

There are many elements that you need to consider when you are planning for your mobile site to be as effective as possible.

Make Sure the Speed of your Pages are Fast

Google has a special place for AMP. We love Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) and Google rewards sites that use them with good rankings. While it is not an essential factor in ranking well in the world of mobile first indexing, it can be a huge win for your site if it is something your competitors aren’t utilising.

AMP is a simple downloadable plugin that is easy to add into most CMS’s, such as WordPress. If you don’t have a WordPress site, we would advise contacting your developers to implement the changes to avoid any possibility of the website breaking.

It would also be worth looking at Yoast for SEO and the Glue plugin which work well in tandem with AMP, but also help in other ways as well. Just check out our blog on WordPress for more about the Yoast plugin.

Remember UX

User Experience (UX) is so important as it is part of your adhesion to mobile first indexing. For beginners, you must have a responsive site. This is the general design of how things look and how they respond to user interaction on the site.

While simple usability is part of this, mobile sites also need to take into account that the site adjusts to to various mobile devices. Different mobile manufacturers and models all have different screen sizes, and their handsets must adjust to whatever angle the device is being held at.

If a user adjusts their phone to landscape and the webpage doesn’t adjust accordingly, then UX is considered poor due to a lack of usability. Users should not have to zoom in and out of a page to read the information. Even if the usability is great on a desktop with mobile first indexing coming into play, you need to make the necessary changes to make sure people can easily use your site.

This is where a responsive design will assist you in becoming more mobile first compliant. Responsive design templates for WordPress and HTML are easy to find and incorporate. Once a design has been chosen, ask your developer to incorporate this into your site. Of course, a response design is just one of the areas that you need to consider as part of mobile seo.

Utilise Free Tools

There are various tools and tests you can use to check that your site is optimised for mobile first indexing. The first of these is the Google mobile-friendly test, which is easy to run on your website.

As we can see on the below screenshot of the ASOS website, their site is mobile page friendly:

A screenshot of Google's Mobile-Friendly Test

While the page is test for mobile friendliness, it also alerts you to any potential issues that there may be with the site in terms of Googlebots, redirection errors and more. It also displays an image of what the site will look when a user lands on that page. As we can see with ASOS, the mobile page is being displayed in a UX friendly way.

Another Google Tool worth taking a look at is PageSpeed Insights. This tool is great to test the speed of your pages, which is where AMP comes in. These pages load much faster, and therefore increase the sites general loading speeds. Using ASOS as a case study once again, we can see in the image below that the site has an average loading speed on mobile, but also on desktop:

Screenshot of PageSpeed insights for Asos from Google

The closer the optimisation score to 100 the better, and while the ASOS site is still only considered average for page speed, it is still performing relatively well. The optimisation score is important to take note of as this gives an indication of where you could improve the speed of your site, such as image optimisation.

The final tool we highly recommend using is Google Search Console. This is the perfect place in which you can identify and often fix any performance based issues with your site. Recently Google has introduced a new version of Search Console. This new Search Console will tell you if any of your pages are not mobile friendly.

Google Search Console is something that we recommend that you check on a regular basis, as you can receive messages to your inbox which identify issues Google has detected while crawling your site. These can range from minor issues to major problems that can impact the way your site is looking on mobile.

Search Console has many brilliant functions, including a mobile usability report – a tool designed to crawl your site as a mobile agent. You can also monitor the health of your accelerated mobile pages (AMP) to make sure no major issues arise.

Mobile first indexing is an all important part of how your site is judged on both an SEO and UX basis. Google is looking more to sites that offer a great user experience tied with in search engine optimisation when organising its rankings. This checklist is just one of the steps you can take to ensure that you maximise your digital marketing strategy.

Keep up to date with everything in the digital marketing world by checking out our blog, or signing up to our newsletter at the bottom of this page. Want more information about how we can assist you with mobile first indexing? Are there any other elements of the digital marketing world you’d need to know more about? Get in touch with the team today to discuss how we can help with your strategy.