- What is "mobile first" indexing?
- SEO Mobile Friendly Audit
What is "mobile first" indexing?
Mobile-first indexing means Google predominantly uses the mobile version of the content for indexing and ranking.Google, 2019
As we've seen in an earlier blog, Google tries to mimic human behaviour with its Search Engine updates (https://onedot.be/the-google-conspiracy/).
By using a "mobile-first indexing" principle, Google has one-upped their search engine's "humanity".
Since the majority of users now access Google Search with a mobile device, Googlebot primarily crawls and indexes pages with the smartphone agent going forward.Google, 2019
Google's idea is that most people search the web through their mobiles. And if that is not yet the case, they 100% believe it will. So, since July 1st of this year, launching a new site means you must be mobile friendly if you want to have your website indexed. I need not remind you that you do want your website to be indexed by Google.
Moreover mobile search, folks like Gary Vaynerchuck believe that "Voice Search" will be the next big thing. Meaning that users will search the web using their voice through the Alexa's and Siri's of their mobile devices. Voice search is beyond the scope of this blog but I'd thought I'd mention it nonetheless, in case you're looking to experiment with sound meta data.
SEO Mobile Friendly Audit
If you already have a website running and you want to check if you need to take steps to improve your rankings, this blog is for you.
For those who are just starting out with their website, Google has provided a handy "best practices" guide for you.
Let's dive in, how do we check the mobile friendliness of your website?
Audit your website for mobile friendliness
Google Chrome offers a free tool to check your mobile friendliness called "Mobile Friendly" test.
Google Search Mobile Friendly test
Navigate to the following "Mobile-friendly test" website: https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly and input your website's URL.
If all goes to plan, you'll see the green letters of success.
Google's Mobile Friendly test is a first indication to see if all goes well. To dive deeper into the audit, you'll need to have your Search Console linked to your website. Only then can you click "Open site-wide mobile usability report" to get an overview of the possible errors.
There is a way to audit your website without having Search Console linked. For example, if your website is still in development, you probably don't have a search console linked. With this workaround, you'll get the same results of the mobile friendly test.
Chrome audit tool
- Navigate to the homepage of your website.
- Right click
- Choose "Inspect"
- By default it transforms your webpage to the responsive version. If not, you can manually choose almost any smartphone setting on the top left of the page.
- Go to "Audits"
- Make sure "Mobile" is selected as the device type.
- Select "Run audits"
SEO for your mobile friendly site
Done. There it is. You now have some new items to put on your to-do list.
A small FYI: The most occurring quick-fix type of "improvements" to mobile friendliness are related to caching or the size of images served. Those are easily "fixed" with the use of a few handy WordPress plugins.
WordPress plugins to improve mobile friendly SEO
Not only is WordPress being used by over 34% of all websites, resulting in a CMS market share of >61%; WordPress is exceptionally amazing in its access to community generated plugins. I'll list a few plugins that I would recommend to anyone optimising their WordPress website for mobile friendliness.
- Yoast (Free): The ability to improve your Meta Data for SEO is one of Yoast's key features. Optimising your meta data indirectly improves your (mobile-first) rankings.
- The SEO Framework (Free): Get notified of any missed SEO optimisation opportunity in one glance. This plugin does not conflict with Yoast.
- WP Rocket ($49 - $249): WP Rocket is a caching plugin that I really recommend to try out. For $249 you can manage unlimited websites. Starting at $49 you're good to go for one website. With WP Rocket you're bound to "fix" the most occurring not-so-mobile-friendly issues. Well recommended features include Lazy Loading your images and pre-loading other elements.
- WebP Express (Free): Dynamically show WebP images to compatible browsers. Using WebP images dramatically improves your mobile-friendliness because of their smaller size, thus resulting in faster mobile load times. Ergo, resulting in better rankings. If the browser does not support WebP images, they'll be shown the original file (e.g. PNG, JPG, ...). Check to see which browsers support WebP: https://caniuse.com/#feat=webp/.
- Imagify (Free): If for some reason WebP express is not your thing, there is always Imagify to try out. 25MB of images a month are free, as are the WebP conversion. Imagify serves as an in-between option between WebP Express and Smush in this list.
- Smush (Free): Apart from WebP support, it's always best to optimise your images first. Smush will automatically process your files as you upload them, without quality loss. "Smushing" your images results in faster load times and thus better mobile-first indexing by Google.
- PNG to JPG (Free): To optimize your images even further, automatically change your PNG's to JPG.
How much WordPress plugins do I need?
The answer is simple: as many as you need. There is no limit -- experiment and see what works for you. For example: on one of our clients' website, we are running 28 active plugins, flawlessly. Just make sure that none of their features overlap, preventing errors. Additionally, always deactivate and delete the plugins you do not use. Idle plugins take up unnecessary space in your database, thus resulting in negative performance.
What about my Wix website?
Wix is notoriously trash when it comes to customizability and plugin availability.
Wix is not an open-source platform. This means that only its private development team can produce website building tools.websitebuilderexpert.com, 2019
If you want to add new plugins, or even create new ones, you're going to have a bad time. "Oh you're looking to optimize your caching? Dang naggit, no developer-approved plugin available? Oh well, what a bummer. Guess you'll just have to just wing it."
What Wix does offer you is custom CSS options, sometimes. So that's something, I guess.
How to delete my Wix website?
According to Wix themselves:
- Go to your site's dashboard.
- Click Site Actions.
- Click Move to Trash.
- Click Move to Trash to confirm.
Mobile first indexing means Google looks at your mobile friendly website rather than the desktop version. You'd best be prepared when you're building a new website or optimising your current one. With Google's own free audit tool, you'll see all the improvement points for quick-fixes. With a few handy dandy WordPress plugins, all those issues are fixed right away.