How to Optimize your Site for Mobile First Indexing

Written by Devin Sizemore

October 19, 2018

Google’s mobile-first index was something of a game changer when the rollout started. Marketers and businesses had already got to grips with optimizing the desktop versions of their websites and now they have to work on the mobile versions. Darn it Google!

The thing is that optimizing your site for Google’s mobile-first indexing is nowhere near as tricky as it might seem. A lot of the time, it’s simply tweaking what you’ve already got so that it’s accessible to a mobile audience. 

Let’s take a look at tips that will help prepare you for the mobile revolution.

Is your Site Mobile Friendly?

It is essential that your website is mobile friendly. With mobile-first indexing, Google’s Smartphone Googlebot will crawl and index the mobile version of your website first instead of the desktop version. The index will only fall back on the desktop version if you do not have a mobile website.

This means that your mobile version will be the baseline in what determines your rankings.

If you’re unsure if you have a mobile-friendly website, Google provides a tool that lets you know.

mobile friendly testOptimize your Site Speed

Research has shown that mobile users are more impatient than desktop users. If your website takes too long to load on mobile devices, people will bail out fast and your bounce rate will be high. Worse still, your conversions and rankings will take a hit.Mobile users have grown used to websites that load quickly. The first thing you need to do is run your website through a mobile site speed tester such as GTmetrix. If it’s too slow to load, you then need to take a look at what the problems could be.

gtmetrixA lot of the time it’s enlarged images that are the culprit. Here’s a great resource that will help you optimize your images.

Another reason for a slow loading website is an issue with the source code. If you coded your website yourself, take a look at the source code to see if there are any irrelevant characters that need to be removed.

Excess redirects can slow down a website’s loading time, too. Here’s a tool that can help you identify any redirects you have.

Optimize your Mobile Snippets

Optimize your snippets for mobile. An easy way of doing this is via the Yoast plugin.

In doing this, the display of your web pages will be enhanced in the SERPs and you will offer a better user experience as a result.

snippet previewThis will likely contribute to better rankings for your website.

Keep your Content Direct, Concise, and to the Point 

As mentioned, mobile users are more impatient than desktop users. This has a bearing on how you optimize for site speed, and it also has a bearing on how you present your content.

Mobile users behave differently to desktop users. Often, they’ll look for information on the go, and as such, they want their information as fast as possible.

If you’re not too sure what content will work best for your audience, run tests.

Work on your CTA and headlines, too. A CTA on the mobile version of your site is going to look a bit different to the desktop version.

Unless you think carefully about the design of your mobile website, it’s really easy for a call-to-action to get buried underneath all your other elements.

What you need to do is craft a call-to-action that stands out as a CTA. To this end, it’s a good idea to add a button. A button helps to distinguish your call-to-action from your other elements and it says to people, ‘click here.’

Headlines, meanwhile, need to be shortened. All you need to do is picture your own mobile screen to see the problem here – it needs to be short. A long headline just won’t look right.

Lose the Pop-ups

We get it – lead generation is important. But as we’ve mentioned, mobile users are impatient. Moreover, they don’t particularly like pop-ups.

Pop-ups can really frustrate a mobile user who is looking for actionable info that they can use there and then. To be on the safe side, it’s a good idea to eliminate your mobile pop-ups.

Avoid Flash

Here’s the scoop: Never use Flash.

The thing is, a lot of mobile users can’t actually see Flash content.

This means that you need to avoid using Flash when optimizing your website for mobile-first indexing.

If you’re already using Flash, you’ll need to make the switch to Java or HTML5. It’s a bit of a pain in the butt, but once you’ve made the switch, you’ll be all up and running.

Don’t Block JavaScript, CSS, or Images

Back in the day, CSS, JavaScript, and images slowed a mobile website down. So we blocked ‘em.

Today, it is different. Smartphones are sophisticated, advanced, and powerful devices that process information super fast.

Instead of hiding these elements from the Googlebot, let it see them so it can better rank your website.

Make Checkout Easier for People

Mobile users are now used to an increasingly hassle-free user experience. They love convenience and speed. To that end, you need to optimize your site so that you give them more of what they want and make this as easy as possible for them.

For website owners, this means streamlining the checkout process for mobile users.

Why? Because customers have grown used to a flexible checkout process on other sites. They want to be able to start their buying journey on one site or device and finish it on another.

To this end, you need to reduce the amount of info you want to collect from your customers at checkout.

find addressSmooth over the navigation, too, and let people save their details for next time if they wish. Also, avoid popups.

popupsAdding a point of sales card reader is a good idea, too. The card reader benefits the customer by increasing their payment options, and it also boosts the merchant because it stores a customer’s data, which you can then analyze and use to give them even more of what they want. This improves their shopping speed and it boosts your conversions.

Local Optimization

Stats show that a lot of mobile searches are local searches – and they have an 80% conversion rate. This is because we tend to use our mobile devices on the go. When we’re out and about in the city, we whip out our mobile device and Google the nearest Japanese restaurant.

To improve your mobile visibility, start adding your business, your service, and your location in the keywords for your content, your title tags, your alt tags, and your meta descriptions. Add “near me” to some keywords, too.

For example, a keyword optimized for mobile search might be “healthy food near me”.

mobile searchConclusion

All in all, optimizing your website for mobile-first indexing doesn’t mean you need to do total spring cleaning. It’s a case of making tweaks that will generate massive returns. It’s a good idea to make a start as soon as you can because the mobile revolution has began – and your customers are ready to get a move on.

About the Author

Michelle DeeryMichelle Deery is the copywriter for Heroic Search, an SEO agency based in Tulsa. Her work has been published in publications such as Entrepreneur. She specializes in writing about SEO and marketing. Her content helps marketers boost their profits and SEO rankings.

Interested in guest posting on LongTailPro?

Visit our write for us page,

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  1. Albert David

    Great ideas. Thanks. And yes, with mobile phone becoming a huge part of life now, having the sites mobile friendly is of great importance.

  2. Albert David

    Love the article. You’ve covered some really good points, especially the pop up. I hate the pop ups. Sometimes, the close button isn’t visible and it frustrates me.


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