Tips on how to prepare for Google’s mobile first index

What does the upcoming mobile first index mean?

Image Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jetheriot/6655647905/

Google’s new feature (Mobile first index) is coming soon. If you want to find out more on exactly what this means then a simple search will provide you with a wealth of information. For those who want a quick summary, essentially Google is launching its own search index for mobile results only on mobile devices (similar to how we all know it operates on desktop for ‘normal’ organic searches.)

To help prepare for the changes and move across the transition, Google has released an update which gives detailed explanations on how webmasters can give themselves a helping hand and heads up in this process. The full document can be viewed here but in the rest of the article we will look a little closer at some of the suggestions and how you can make sure your own website is ready for the move from m-dot to responsive.

The first point is probably obvious but even so it is still worth mentioning. You need to make sure that your site is ‘responsive ready.’ By now most websites are mobile optimised but it is surprising how many are still not. Important: Google is suggesting that if you are not yet responsive to undertake this before the first rollout of the new feature. This almost indirectly means that not doing so will leave you at some kind of disadvantage.

Secondly, Google suggests that 301 redirects from the former mobile sites are changed to point to the new (responsive) pages.  Unfortunately this will need to be done on a link by link basis, so could take some time.

Thirdly, Google encourages that any links using mobile URL specific configuration are taken out. These might include vary HTTP headers or conditional redirects for example.

Fourthly, it is recommended that ‘rel- canonical’ tags are added on the new responsive features. Google explains that this is done as best practice, and so gives another indirect message that following their suggestions might benefit you further in the long run.

Why bother?

Firstly we have already alluded to this. There are obvious very good reasons to follow the suggestions, because it is likely to deliver you a better site and put you at an advantage over your competitors who do not do this, or worse still are not responsive.

Secondly, it will make tasks like reporting and website maintenance much easier, meaning this is plenty of time you can save later on. Speed is another issue which you would have in your favour also and we all know how important this is!

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