What Did Google’s July Deadline For Mobile-First Indexing Really Mean

We’re still hearing a bit of confusion about what exactly happened to Google’s ranking algo on July 1st, so let us clear the air.

Here’s what it wasn’t: July 1st was not the start of mobile-first Indexing. It was also not the deadline to make sure your site was up to Google’s mobile-first standards.

Here’s what it really was: All new websites (not previously crawled by Google) would be indexed mobile-first by default.

The short answer is that if you launch a site after July 1st, expect the mobile site to be looked at first. Which should not be a big deal, because most new sites should be built with mobile in mind and any SEO firm in Toronto should know how to optimize that.

The July date should have absolutely no bearing on current sides, and your site should have already been optimized. If it’s not, your homework is very late and the teacher would like you to stay after class to discuss it.

mobile first notificationWhy All the Confusion?

To be blunt, Google has been promising mobile-first indexing since November of 2016 and has rolled it out in various stages ever since. It may be hard to follow it all, if you haven’t been plugged into the SEO scene every day like we are.

At a glance, here is how it played out.

Friday, November 4, 2016
In the same year that mobile traffic surpassed desktop traffic on a global scale, everyone wondered when Google will start to put more weight on mobile sites when assessing your web presence. 

Google makes it official and announces mobile-first indexing as a way of adapting to how we’re all searching for things. No hard dates or specifics are announced, just an industry-wide feeling that, “This is huge.”

Monday, December 18, 2017
A bit more than a year after the Winter-is-Coming-like warning, Google states that:

“We continue to be cautious with rolling out mobile-first indexing. We believe taking this slowly will help webmasters get their sites ready for mobile users, and because of that, we currently don’t have a timeline for when it’s going to be completed.”

This confirms two things:

1. Google is serious about doing this the right way and wants us to all understand the scale of what is happening

2. If you haven’t optimized your mobile site, you really need to get on that.

A lot of people make their mobile site their New Year’s Resolution. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

So this is Christmas. What have you done (to your mobile site)?

A year after their last big announcement that mobile-first is being slowly rolled out, Google reports that mobile-first indexing is currently used for over 50% of their search results. They add that websites that are now being indexed mobile-first will be notified via Search Console.

If you have not acted on the previous warnings, you are very much behind at this point.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Google announced they are now switching over websites that appear to be following their best practices guide.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

This is the first time Google puts a hard date on anything.

As we mentioned earlier, Google announced that, as of July 1st, all new sites that have not previously been indexed will now be indexed mobile-first by default, because, “Most new sites seem to work fine on mobile,” according to Google’s John Mueller.

As for all sites that were launched or created before July 1st, Google says they will continue to contact webmasters about their readiness.

mobile first indexThursday, June 27th 

Google introduces more mobile-first reporting in Search Console.

This shows you that you have been switched and the date you have been switched, so you can properly analyze how the switchover has impacted your traffic and other metrics.


How to Succeed in a Mobile-First World

If the entire Google algo shifting wasn’t enough incentive to make you think mobile-first, here are some stats to consider.

  • 88% of local business searches on a mobile device let to either a call or a visit for the business within 24 hours. This means mobile customers are buy-ready customers.
  • 60% of the people who search for local business use smartphones
  • 65% of people use their mobile phone in their “buying moments,” meaning they want to buy this thing right now and they will be frustrated if your site won’t let them do that

How do you set your mobile site up for SEO success? You need to focus on the mobile experience.

Mobile User Experience (UX) and SEO

If you have a user who is in the midst of a micro-moment or buying moment, don’t stand in their way. Google can tell when someone abandons your site or the shopping cart without buying anything.

There are a number of things that can ruin this experience:

You Have Intrusive Pop-ups, Interstitials or Overlays

Is it pretty much impossible to do anything on your site without clicking your pop-up newsletter or whitepaper CTA? This is a big no-no for UX and Google has warned webmasters about this.

If you’re suffering from this, we recommend referring to Google’s guidelines.

Your Videos Don’t Work on Mobile

This is immediately off-putting for a user and they will likely leave right away.

We recommend using Google Web Designer to create mobile-friendly animations in HTML5.

Your Users Have to Pinch and Zoom to Read/ Do Anything 

Are your users clicking one button by accident when they’re trying to click another? Do they have to pinch and zoom to read your text? These are also UX and SEO killers.

Once again, we strongly recommend you read Google’s Guidelines on how to properly space your elements.

They take a nice, deep dive into how everything should look and function.

You Have Too Little SEO Content

There is less space to work with, but the exact same need for SEO content. Google still needs good old fashioned text to read to know who you are and what you’re all about. With less screen space to work with, you simply have to be more strategic in how you place it.

Picture your mobile screen, divided into thirds:

The Top Third:
Is your logo, banner, and call-to-action (CTA). This CTA is the whole point of the whole page, so you want it clear and accessible. 

The Middle Third:
This is where you briefly describe your offering as concisely as possible. You will also put your social proof here, which could be your awards badges, industry certification, big-ticket client logos, or a great testimonial.

The Bottom Third:
This is where things can get a bit more text-heavy and you can add most of your SEO-rich keywords. This is also a great place for a dropdown menu that opens up more space for more content.

Need Help With Your Mobile SEO?

The real secret to success in a mobile-first world is mobile-first planning. Our creative and strategic thinkers can help your entire web presence.

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