By: Kavan Sohal Mar 4/2024

In an era where smartphones reign supreme, understanding the nuances of mobile-first indexing is not just a fancy buzzword; it’s a business necessity especially now that Google has fully rolled out it’s Mobile-first indexing update. Let’s dive into what mobile-first indexing means for your business, how it affects your website and how having a mobile friendly website can keep your business and website in the digital game including the impact of having a mobile-friendly website has on your websites SEO and Google Ads performance.

What is Mobile-First Indexing and Why is it Important?

Mobile-first indexing sounds daunting, but it’s pretty straightforward. First let’s answer the question of what is indexing? Indexing is when Google and other search engines stores your website or web pages into their search directory. So if you search your website and find it in Google search, that means your website is indexed; if you don’t see it on Google search, that means you aren’t indexed or ranked and the search engine won’t send visitors to your webpage since they can’t find it.

In the past, Google and other search engines visited the desktop version of your website to determine the rankings for your website. Now, the mobile version takes center stage and is what Google uses to determine your website rankings. In other words, your mobile website’s structure, formatting, content are now the primary source for indexing and ranking your site.

What Happens if You Don’t Have a Mobile Friendly Website?

Now if you don’t have a mobile friendly website, your website will still get visited by Google However, Google will index your website based on your desktop version, but your website is unlikely to rank well in mobile search results (it can also impact desktop rankings as well) for your most important terms.

Why Did Google Introduce Mobile-First Indexing?

The answer is in your pocket. As smartphone usage skyrockets, more people browse the web on their mobile devices, whether they’re on the move or lounging at home. Google, who is always a step ahead, recognized this shift and advocated for a mobile-friendly internet by pushing for mobile-first indexing. If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, it will still get indexed and ranked, but it will likely lag behind your competitors in search engine rankings. You always want to make sure you are matching your competitors if not exceeding them to outrank anyone in your specific niche.

What Changes Should I Make to My Website to Perform Best for Mobile?

To stay competitive, focus on these key areas:

Design: Your website’s design should be responsive, meaning it automatically adjusts to various screen sizes. This adaptability ensures that your site looks great on any device, from a tiny smartphone to a large desktop monitor.

Website Speed: Mobile users expect quick load times. Optimize your site’s speed by compressing images and streamlining code. Every second counts.

User Experience & Usability: The goal is to make your site not just accessible but enjoyable on mobile devices. This means readable content, easily clickable buttons, and intuitive navigation tailored for smaller screens, high-quality photos and images, not having broken links or broken images throughout the website and making sure most of your content (or your most important content) is available within three clicks or less.

Core Web Vitals – Mobile Experience:

Core Web Vitals are a ranking factor that are technical user experience metrics to ensure that anyone who visits your website has a smooth experience.

Here’s a breakdown below:

CLS (Cumulative Layout Shift): This metric measures the stability of your site’s layout. A low CLS ensures that content doesn’t unexpectedly shift, providing a smoother browsing experience.

FID (First Input Delay): FID measures the time from when a user first interacts with your site to the time when the browser responds to that interaction. Quick response times are crucial.

LCP (Largest Contentful Paint): LCP deals with loading performance, measuring how quickly the main content of a web page loads and becomes visible to users.

INP (Interaction to Next Paint): This new metric focuses on the responsiveness of a website during user interactions.

Impact on SEO and Google Ads: Navigating the Mobile-First Maze

The shift to mobile-first indexing isn’t just a technical update; it’s a game-changer for both SEO and Google Ads. Let’s break down how this shift impacts your online visibility and advertising efforts.

The SEO Impact of Having a Mobile-Friendly Website:

Mobile-first indexing directly influences your website’s ranking on search engines. Here’s the simple truth: if your website isn’t optimized for mobile, it’s like bringing a knife to a gunfight in the SEO arena. Your competitors with mobile-friendly sites will likely outrank you, putting you at a competitive disadvantage, making it harder for potential customers to find you in the digital jungle.

User Experience is King: A mobile-optimized site isn’t just about looking good on a smartphone. It’s about delivering a seamless, user-friendly experience. Slow load times, difficult navigation, and misplaced content can frustrate users, increasing the likelihood of them leaving your site. And when users bounce, search engines take notice and may demote your ranking if they continue to see this pattern.

Local SEO Leverage: For local businesses, mobile optimization is even more critical. With more people searching on the go, local SEO relies heavily on mobile-friendly experiences. A well-optimized mobile site can lead to higher rankings in local search results, bringing more foot traffic to your doorstep. I’m sure we can all think of an example where we are looking for a particular product, service, restaurant, etc and then being frustrated that the website is lacking information or is very hard to use on your mobile device which can impact whether potential customers will go to you or closest competitor.

Google Ads: The Performance Play

When it comes to Google Ads, the landing page experience is a cornerstone. A mobile-first world means that your ad’s landing pages must be optimized for mobile users. Here’s why:

Quality Score and Ad Performance: Google evaluates the relevance and usability of your landing pages when determining your ads’ Quality Score. A mobile-optimized landing page can lead to a higher Quality Score, potentially lowering your cost per click and improving ad placement, and performance.

Conversion Conundrum: Picture this – a user clicks on your ad, lands on a page that’s hard to navigate on their phone, and leaves in frustration. That’s a lost opportunity and, likely, wasted ad spend. This mistake almost certainly ensures they won’t return to your website down the line, regardless of where they were in their user journey. A mobile-friendly landing page is crucial for keeping your mobile users engaged and guiding them towards converting.

The Bounce Rate Blues: High bounce rates from your ads’ landing pages signal to Google that something’s amiss. If users are consistently leaving without engaging, it could hurt your ad performance, making your campaigns less effective and more costly.

Conclusion: Embrace the Mobile-First Future

Embracing mobile-first indexing is key to aligning with your audience’s preferences. In today’s  smartphone dominated world, having your website mobile optimized is staying at least par with your competitors. It goes beyond satisfying search engine algorithms; it’s about ensuring your presence is where your customers are, with a seamless mobile experience.

Look beyond your website. Extend mobile optimization across all your digital platforms – from Google Ads and your Google Business Profile (GBP) to email campaigns. Keep your GBP active, engage with customer reviews, and maintain a consistent brand visual. Implement strategies like Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) for quicker loading and consider mobile apps for deeper user engagement.

In essence, a mobile-friendly approach is not just an aspect of your brand – it’s often the first and most lasting impression. Regularly audit and optimize your digital assets for a superior mobile experience. This not only boosts your SEO and ad performance but also drives better user engagement and conversion rates, propelling you forward in the competitive digital landscape.