Desktop is Dead (Sort Of): What Google’s Mobile-First Index Means for Your Web Design

Knowledge is a core value at SCG. This weekly column highlights something interesting learned recently by one of our team members. We hope you find it intriguing, relevant and informative.

Mobile device usage is firmly ingrained in every aspect of our lives: work, entertainment, and whatever else a healthy lifestyle is made up of. So much so, in fact, that I shouldn’t even have to tell you that most people who use the internet do it on a mobile device. But here it is, anyway: somewhere around four out of five web surfers are tapping their way across the ‘net instead of clicking.

From that perspective, it makes sense that Google is starting to use mobile versions of websites for indexing and ranking. They’re trying to make sure that the majority of people using the internet have a smooth time getting what they’re looking for.

What Mobile-First Means for Your Website

For those sites for which mobile-first indexing is being rolled out, Google will look at the mobile version of your site’s content before the desktop version to determine what information to cache and crawl as well as how your site ranks in search engine results. Basically, this means that the old desktop-normative dynamic – wherein you develop and treat the desktop version of your website as the “primary” version – is going out the window.

I Have No Mobile and I Must Scream

Luckily, the best practices you’ve already been using for your web design (right?) are still the best ways to put on a good face for Google’s pivot to a mobile focus. To recap:

  • Responsiveness (the ability of a site to cleanly scale from desktop size to mobile size) facilitates breezy motion between pages, exposing visitors to more of your content and providing more opportunities for them to find something they value.
  • Site speed ensures they won’t be waiting on the next thing to appear. We’re talking fast – like, Gone in [3] Seconds starring Nic Cage and Angelina Jolie fast.
  • Putting the good-’n’-contenty stuff front-and-center, rather than hiding it behind pop-ups and menus and lightboxes and chat stickies (and and and and…), means neither Google’s crawly peepers nor your human visitors’ real eyeballs will have to wrestle against your site design to find what they want. This is especially true of blog content, which is conservatively 100% of the reason anybody visits a blog post.

I’ll be writing a little bit more about how content marketers can make their content play nice with Google’s mobile-first indexing. Until then, and after then, get in touch with us to find out whether or not your website design needs a little TLC before it’s Google-ready.

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Jason Dafnis

With a diverse background in journalism, radio, entertainment press and blogging, Jason helps tie together B2B assignments with a creative editorial drive. An experienced web content creator, he bolsters clients’ efforts with specialized social media outreach […] Read Bio »


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