We've known for a while that Google has started paying more attention to mobile-friendly websites and their mobile/responsive views. It makes sense really when mobile users are accounting for almost 60% of all web traffic these days. What you may not have known, though, is that Google has rolled out it's so-called "Mobile-First" index.
A.k.a. "the game has changed, but the players are still the same!", "you might be doing it wrong", and death to desktop SEO.
Well, in all reality, NOT death to desktop SEO, it'll still count and be important, but not as important as your site's mobile view. Google is changing the way it ranks your site in the search engine results page (SERPs). The way we've been used to Google ranking a site is to have it's bots explore your site, every nook and cranny, from a desktop view and rank the whole shebang accordingly. NOW though, Google will start crawling your website from a mobile view first, desktop second. This is prompting a lot of people to re-design and re-optimize their site. And with good reason!
WHAT HAPPENS TO MY RANKINGS IF I DON'T HAVE A MODERN MOBILE VIEW?
What do I mean by modern mobile view?
- It was a common practice a few years back to create two separate sites for a business: a desktop view and a mobile view. This worked OK but usually they looked a little different or the mobile version was lacking info and links that the desktop version had. This is frowned upon now.
- No mobile responsive view of your site at all.
- Mobile view of your website that functions and looks completely different than your desktop view.
If you have any of the 3 listed above, you can relax. Google will still surf your site's desktop view and rank your page accordingly but several of the things listed above will definitely hurt your SERPs.
Free Tip: You should definitely switch over to a up-to-date, mobile responsive, mobile search engine optimized website. Like today. If you're serious about making a statement or growing your business online these are musts in today's world. "Well we don't have a mobile view website and our regular site is getting ranked and driving business just fine!"..... Yes that's definitely possible. For now. I'm also sure that sounds pretty close to what horse salesmen were saying when Henry Ford started kicking is automobile's into gear.
WHEN DOES MOBILE-FIRST INDEXING START?
Right meow! But it'll take months before it's really in full swing and out of beta usage. Rest assured it won't be long before Google perfects this new indexing method and starts leaning on it heavily.
WILL MY RANKINGS CHANGE DRAMATICALLY WITH MOBILE FIRST?
Yes and no. Mobile-first indexing shouldn't result in significant change to you rankings but certainly if your site isn't mobile friendly you shouldn't expect to rank well. Especially going forward with Google's ever-changing indexing and ranking algorithms.
SO ARE THERE TWO INDEXES?
As of now, yes, there are two indexing methods and two indexes: Mobile and Desktop. Google has plans to move to only one index in the future, and guess what, it's the mobile index. Mobile is fast surpassing desktop in almost every aspect so it only makes sense for Google to evolve with the times. After all, their whole "thing" is to provide exactly what people are looking for, on the platform they're looking for it on.
I hate to do it, but it must be done.... If your site isn't mobile friendly, responsive, and SEO optimized... good thing you know a guy ;)