Putting Mobile First: Indexing Digital Content
The way Google indexes content is changing; in the past, Google would evaluate the content on a desktop website and then rank the mobile site based on that information. However, Google is now set to inverse this process, ranking a desktop site based on its mobile content. In this blog post, we explore the impact that this will have on both mobile and desktop sites, whilst assessing how content will be written because of this change.
What’s going to change?
With the rise of mobile content on smart devices as the main source of information for most users, it appears that Google is now recognising the importance of mobile content. From now on, mobile content will be the main source of a website’s ranking. Even though there is no official release date for this change as of yet, it is in the pipeline and being tested. We can assume however that its release will be in the latter half of 2017, based on Google’s claim that it is still ‘months’ away.
Why make the change?
Google is making this change because as they discovered, almost two years ago now, that more searches occur on a mobile as opposed to a desktop website. In light of this, Google wants to assure users that their experience on a mobile device is as good, if not better, than their experience on a desktop site, as content is usually a lot more sparse – or less imaginative, in comparison to its desktop counterpart. This is usually true when separate URLs are used for each respective website and dynamic serving (where different HTML is assigned to the same URL) is used to divert users to the appropriate version of the website.
Moulding your content for mobile
The first thing you need to establish when comparing your desktop to your mobile content, is whether your content is visible and accessible on your mobile website. You should be providing users with a consistent experience – irregardless of what platform they’re using. For example, if you’re hiding content on your mobile site that is accessible on your desktop website, then you’ll need to amend this.
However, you should evaluate how you are going to move content over from your desktop site to mobile – you don’t want to compromise the validity or quality of the content you produce just to suit changing demands; remember, quality is key.
Once you’ve done this, create a sound structure for your content on the mobile site. Don’t place 300 words worth of content on top of the page and compromise the visibility of your products or services, try placing the content further down the page; or, use a ‘read more’ button so that users can be taken to the content further down the page if they would like to read it. Always remember that there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to content structure – define what works best for your mobile site.
It is a well-known issue that interlinking can be difficult on mobile sites when users try to find available desktop content when dynamic serving is being used. To fix this, make sure your content is discoverable throughout your mobile site in the same way as it is when using the desktop site. If this is not done, then the site may run into difficulties with Google. When Google crawls a mobile site, and the internal linking architecture is not replicated across both platforms, Google considers this as poor internal link equity that is distributed throughout the mobile site, causing a drop in rankings.