From Mobilegeddon to Mobile First Index

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Suppose you own an online store. Your website ranks high on Google in most of the keywords associated with your business, and in this way, you have a total customer base. Everything looks great!

Until one night everything changes. Google has sent your website from the first page of the results to the tenth page! Why?! How do other customers find you? Does anyone go to the tenth page of Google?

For an online business, it’s like reaching the end of the world. That’s why when Google announced a new algorithm for ranking websites (in mobile) in 2015, SEO experts called the algorithm Mobilegeddon or Mobile Apocalypse (a combination of the two words Armageddon and Mobile).

They thought that after activating this algorithm, they should say goodbye to the first page of the results and read the farewell lyrics! Google did not intend to intimidate webmasters at all but wanted to encourage them to build Mobile Friendly websites.

This algorithm was only first step! Google started this way with Mobilegeddon and ended it with another algorithm called Mobile-First Index.

But why is Google putting so much importance to its mobile users? What does Friendly Mobile mean? How can we survive this mobile apocalypse? In this article, we will answer all these questions.

What is the reason for designing mobile-friendly algorithms?

In the past, the mobile phone was almost a luxury device and few people in every family used it. Of course, at that time – when mobile internet was not very widespread – mobile users make up a very small percentage of website visitors. From 2010 onwards, with the introduction of touchscreen mobile phones and the spread of mobile internet, the number of mobile users has increased, and more and more people are turning to mobile devices for web browsing.

But the problem with mobile browsing was that websites didn’t match the size of the mobile screens. That’s why it was so hard to use them on mobile screens. On the other hand, we know that most of Google’s revenue comes from click-through advertising. Naturally, when users can’t easily use a website, they quickly leave it and there goes down Google’s revenue from advertising.

That’s why Google decided to think of a solution to improve the user experience (and of course keep its revenue !!!).

The only thing that could have persuaded designers and webmasters to build mobile-friendly websites was to “get a better ranking in search results” So Google designed new algorithms, such as Gadon Mobile and Mobile-First Index. In the following, we will become more familiar with these algorithms.

From Mobilegeddon to Mobile-First Index

Google has made it clear what it means to be mobile-friendly. As a user, which website do you connect with the best?

The answer is clear. You probably agree with us, but now, thanks to Gadon’s mobile algorithm, we’re only looking at mobile-friendly websites in the top results.

So don’t be surprised if your mobile search results are different from your computer results. For example, you may search for “website design” on your computer and see the company website X in the first place. But when you search for the same phrase on your mobile phone, you may see this website on the second page of results!

At the same time, Google announced in 2015 that although mobile is important, still user behaviour determines search rankings. This means that even if your website is not mobile-friendly but its content is great for users, you can still rank in the top search rankings. Of course, as long as your competitors have not produced better and more mobile-friendly content!

The Mobilegeddon algorithm only affected three things:

  • Search engine rankings
  • Search results in all languages ​​of the world
  • Ranking of separate pages, not the whole website

Of course, at the beginning of this algorithm, the changes in the ranking of the results were not very noticeable; even in the research conducted by a reputable website in the same year, it turned out that the loading speed of the website is more important than mobile-friendliness.

The apocalypse is coming …

Less than a year later (in 2016), Google announced plans to rank websites better based on if they are mobile-friendly or not.

As mobile searches grew, so did Google’s importance for mobile-friendly websites. Thus the promised apocalypse finally came, and Google announced the introduction of the Mobile-First Index algorithm, from then on, the mobile version of each website was considered as the original version!

This means that Google’s crawler robots, which are responsible for reviewing content and indexing websites, first go to the mobile version of a website. In fact, Google’s main criterion for ranking a website is the mobile version, and the desktop version is in second place! While in the past, desktop versions were indexed and having a mobile version was only an advantage to get better rankings.

If you are planning to start a new website, you should know that this algorithm will be activated on new websites from the beginning. If you already own a website, Google will notify you sooner or later by searching the console for mobile activation.

It’s okay if your website doesn’t have a mobile version; the desktop version is still indexed, but since Google is very sensitive to mobile users, you shouldn’t expect any high ranking.

In general, Google’s goal is to satisfy all users. But since most people are connected to the mobile version, it is much, much more important to be mobile-friendly. It is interesting to know that the more mobile-friendly your website is today, the better it will also be in the “Desktop Search Results”!

All of these factors have made web designers very interested in mobile-friendly design. In the following, we will become more familiar with some methods that developers are now using to make mobile-friendly websites.

3 ways to create a mobile-friendly website

Website designers use these methods to build a mobile version of a website, depending on the needs of the project (and of course their own expertise!).

1. Bootstrap responsive websites

Bootstrap is a programming framework used to build responsive websites. Responsive websites change their text and visual elements for display on mobile.

Bootstrap divides each page of your website into 12 equal parts. In this way, when the user enters the website using their mobile phone, these 12 parts are reduced to a proportional factor, so that each part of your website is displayed correctly on the mobile screen.

For example, they convert text from a three-column layout to a single column so that users don’t need a horizontal scroll.

In this method, the mobile version and the desktop are both on the main domain and have the same content. However, some web designers may remove some of the content of the desktop version when displayed on mobile. The reason for this may be the limited space on mobile screens.

2. Mobile version on the subdomain (m.website.com)

Ever noticed the Facebook URL on your mobile? While the Facebook address is in the desktop version is facebook.com, the mobile version address is m.facebook.com.

Although these websites are also responsive to Bootstrap,  mobile and desktop versions have different addresses. Of course, Google recommends that you design your website responsibly instead. Because such websites are a bit difficult to implement and maintain.

For example, if you don’t implement this method properly, Google may consider each version as a separate website and penalize you for having duplicate content!

3. Dynamic serving websites

Websites like Amazon, which are dominated by mobile users, need to pay more attention to improving their user experience because the convenience and satisfaction of users has a big impact on the sales of their products, so they can’t just have a responsive website.

These websites use a method called Dynamic Serving. In this way, unlike the previous method, the site address is fixed, but the HTML codes for display on the mobile pages of the website are completely optimized. There are usually many differences between these two versions (desktop and mobile).

So far, we’ve covered a variety of ways to build a responsive website. But before we get our website ready for mobile-friendly algorithms, we need to ask ourselves if Google recognizes us as a mobile-friendly website.

Test the website’s mobile-friendliness

Google has designed a useful tool for this. Just go to the mobile-friendly website and enter your website address there. We did the same, and as you can see, Kiuloper has been approved as a responsive website.

Of course, Google approval does not guarantee user satisfaction!!! Your website may be responsive to various tools and even the Mobilegeddon algorithm itself, but not to the user. To make sure everything is in place, after making any changes, visit the website using your tablet and mobile phone and review different sections as an audience.

Ask yourself:

  • Does the website font bother my eyes?
  • Are clickable elements too close together?
  • Is the overall look of the website pleasant for me?
  • And…

Well, let’s get ready to prepare the website for mobile-friendly algorithms.

Website SEO for mobile-friendly algorithms

In order for your website to be optimal in terms of Mobile-First Index and Mobilegeddon algorithms, it is enough for Google to recognize you as a responsive website. If your website is approved in the previous step, 80% of the work is solved. (If your website is not responsive, you can order a fully responsive site by visiting the web development page.)

If the mobile version of your website is separate, you should consider the following points:

Same content on desktop and mobile

Make sure all desktop version content is also available in the mobile version. As we said, google first indexes your mobile version. If the mobile version has less content than the desktop, the impact of that content on your rankings will be greatly reduced.

Schema codes are the same

Schema codes make Google robots better understand your website and identify the sections and content of your website, in addition to improving SEO.

If you plan to use Schema codes, be sure to check that these codes are well displayed in the mobile and desktop versions and will not be moved.

Equivalent meta descriptions

Note that meta headlines and descriptions are equivalent in both versions. For example, if you used certain keywords in your headline, be sure to include those words in the headline of the mobile version. But the two titles don’t have to be exactly the same.

The content of bilingual websites should not differ

A small problem with coding bilingual websites in mobile and desktop versions can easily ruin your entire website in search results. Even in normal mode, bilingualizing a website without prior knowledge can cause a lot of problems for your index. The importance of URLs and their proper use in bilingual websites is very high.

Importance of Mapping and ROBOT.TXT website files

Mapping a website and ROBOT.TXT are two of the most important and influential points on the SEO of a website.

  • Website Map: A sitemap is actually a file that contains a list of the most important content on your website so that Google’s crawler robots can easily index your website’s content.
  • ROBOT.txt: Using this file, you can determine the behaviour of search engine crawlers against your website and tell them which parts of your website pages should not be searched and indexed.

In any case, be careful that the URLs and commands in these two files are both executed in the same way for mobile and desktop versions.

Enable mobile version in console search

If you have activated the Google console search only for the desktop version of your website, be sure to enable it for the mobile version as well.

Server capacity

If your website’s mobile version is on a separate server, make sure your host has the resources (in terms of hardware) to crawl Google’s robots.

Frequently Asked Questions About Mobile-First Index Algorithm

Some webmasters may think that their website is going to be penalized or downgraded for not following these tips, so we decided to answer some common questions about this algorithm. If you do not see the question in this section, please leave us a comment.

What is the risk of non-optimized pages for mobile?

We said that with the activation of this algorithm, the main criterion of Google will be the mobile version of each website. But if a responsive website has a few pages that aren’t optimized for mobile in some special cases, Google indexes the desktop version of the website and considers it in the ranking results.

Are non-responsive websites removed from the results?

Google has never commented on the removal of non-responsive websites from the results. But given the high importance of user behaviour for Google, we’re likely to see a decline in rankings and the removal of non-responsive websites from search results over time.

An increase in the bounce rate and a decrease in the click-through rate of a website tells Google that a website is an inappropriate website for users, or at least for mobile users. So Google will gradually reduce the ranking of this website in the results related to this phrase, and by repeating this issue on other searches, we will also see a decrease in the overall ranking of this website.

The last word

As we said, the best way to save mobile apocalypse is to use responsive design. If you don’t want to lose your valuable customers due to problems like font clutter and image size, start thinking about designing a responsive website today.

Finally, if you have any questions or comments, please let us know in the comments.

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