Is Your Ecommerce Site Ready for Mobile-First Indexing?

|27th Jan 2017

Year on year, the buzzword around web design is ‘mobile’. And for good reason too. The number of people using smartphones to search the Web has increased dramatically. Read any article about industry trends and you can expect to hear the advice “go mobile” again and again.

For ecommerce websites in particular, this message can’t be overemphasised. 72% of shoppers opt for their smartphones during the research stage, and mobile shoppers spend more money per purchase compared to desktop shoppers.

With a mobile version of your website, you can reduce your bounce rate, increase conversions, and even improve webpage load times.

So what’s new?

In 2016, the number of people using a mobile device to browse the web versus desktops reached a tipping point. For the first time, desktop dropped to second best. Believe it or not, more people are searching and shopping on mobile devices than ever before.

According to Statcounter, 51.3 % of webpages loaded in October 2016 were loaded on mobile devices (based on the 2.5 million websites they track).

This change has prompted a reaction from search giant Google, with the company releasing a Mobile-first Indexing update in November 2016. What does this mean exactly? Soon, Google will be using the mobile version of your website as the primary concern.

With around 80% of the search market share, anything Google does can’t be ignored, so what have they got planned?

Google’s U-turn

To date, Google’s ranking system typically reviews the desktop versions of websites, then evaluates their relevance to users accordingly. Providing a mobile version helped improve rankings, especially if Google’s users are shopping on mobile devices. While the mobile version was never Google’s primary concern, this is about to change.

Today, most people on Google are searching using mobile devices, so their current system no longer makes sense. Testing has started on mobile-first indexing, and if successful this new approach will be rolled out soon.

What should I do?

  • No mobile version: If your website doesn’t have a mobile version, Google will continue to index your desktop version as the primary version, even if they’re using a mobile user agent. However, maintaining this stance wouldn’t be wise. Now is the time to consider a mobile-friendly upgrade.
  • Responsive sites: According to Google, “if you have a responsive site or a dynamic serving site where the primary content and markup is equivalent across mobile and desktop, you shouldn’t have to change anything”. For anybody who has already ticked the “go mobile” task of their to-do list, this is great news.
  • Different versions: For anybody with different content and markup across the mobile and desktop versions, you may need to make some alterations. It’s not uncommon for a website’s mobile version to display a reduced amount of content, with the goal to simplify the user’s experience. This may have worked in the past, but moving forward this may affect your rankings.

Can we help?

The simplest way to prepare for Google’s mobile-first indexing is to ensure your ecommerce store is responsive. At Fluid Digital, we specialise in mobile-friendly Magento ecommerce websites. Take a look at some of our projects and you can see the results for yourself. For more information, call 0161 452 1350 or complete our online contact form.

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