Improve Your Rankings for Mobile-First Indexing

2018 is a big shift in the way that Google fundamentally looks at how it will Index pages with a shift to a Mobile lead index. Now is the time to take action and address the Mobile-first Indexing correctly. We will look different set ups to optimise from the optimum mobile configuration based against your site set up and what we know from Google up to now, how to properly handle AMP pages in the new Mobile Index and also what is next in the future.

The history of searching on mobile has changed throughout the years. We went from WAP html in 1999 to Mobile first indexing in 2017. When we started with using desktop computers, we never really considered using mobile for search marketing.

How does Google crawl different configurations?

  1. Responsive. Would expect Google to use both user agents on the same URL to validate that the same content is returned.
  2. Dynamic. Google needs to crawl with both user agents to validate the mobile version. Hint: Use the Vary HTTP header!
  3. Separate. Google needs to crawl the dedicated mobile URLs with a mobile user agent to validate the pages and confirm the content matches the desktop pages.

In his presentation, Jon took a closer look at the impact of Mobile-first on different mobile configurations.

If you only have a desktop only website, you’re not in a good place, meaning you will be critically affected by the changes in 2018. Desktop together with Dedicated Mobile and Dynamic will be affected as well. Responsive have a medium priority because they are very unlikely to be affected.

Potential issues may be:

  1. Site architecture: indexation, crawlability, canonicalization, pagerank, linking structure.
  2. Site content: content differences — titles/H1s, description, body content. Missing content — responsive: hidden content (no longer an issue after mobile-first). Dynamic: missing content. Dedicated: missing content.
  3. Tags and markups: schema, hreflang config
  4. Order of mobile-first indexing

There will be no major stress to deal with when canonicalization is concerned once 2018 comes. As for the architecture, the page authority should be passed via «mobile rel alternate». Make sure you pay enough attention to all of your pages on the mobile version of your site, don’t let your mobile version have orphaned pages

Links on mobile pages will be used for the link graph. Mobile-first indexing will use the links on your mobile pages for calculating the link graph. So take some time and clean up your internal site architecture.

Another aspect is the Hreflang configuration. You need to put Hreflang in place with the mobile version of your site and remove it from your desktop because mobile pages are the indexed pages.

If you have a vary header which returns a different page for a mobile user agent, Google will use that as the mobile page instead of the responsive page. Jon urges all marketers to get to the point where all of your pages are responsive because responsive only will be indexed by Google, the speed of serving will be maximal, and the set up will be good! And, of course, having AMP pages is a great plus.

Priority of indexing content after mobile-first release:

  1. Dedicated mobile/dynamic
  2. Responsive
  3. Desktop
  4. AMP

Priority of displaying in Google SERPS:

  1. AMP (priority)
  2. Dedicated Mobile/dynamic
  3. Responsive
  4. Desktop

The optimal setup for mobile-first will most likely be the responsive design because it avoids the issues of different content and links on your mobile pages.

If your website is dynamic, Jon recommends two crawls:

  1. Web crawl. This is to compare your desktop to mobile site architecture, linking structure and crawlability.
  2. Analytics/List crawl (crawling priority high driving traffic pages). This is to test if you have the mobile equivalents for all your important pages so the ones that drive significant amount of traffic or/and have authority backlinks.
  3. Both crawls will highlight:
  • If mobile configuration is setup correctly
  • You don’t have any significant content differences
  • All pages are accessible on mobile as well

If your website has a separate mobile version, Jon recommends:

  1. Two types of Web Crawl. This is to compare your desktop version to mobile one to see if your configuration is setup correctly, that you don’t have any significant content differences, all the pages are accessible on mobile as well.
  2. Analytics/List crawl (crawling priority high driving traffic pages). This is to test if you have the mobile equivalents for all your important pages so the ones that drive significant traffic or/and have authority backlinks.

Jon Myers

Jon is an experienced senior leader with over 19 years’ experience within the digital marketplace working for large corporate organisations to start ups within the sector.

Having worked for agency, publisher and more recently the ad technology space Jon has a keen understanding of all sides of the market and very strong business and people connections across EMEA. Jon is recognised for his experience and thought leadership within the European online advertising industry, having worked in paid search since its inception, many years in SEO/display/social and as a regular speaker/moderator at conferences worldwide.

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