Mobile-First Guidelines Echo SEO Best Practices
Google attempts to be transparent about their business practices outside the secret sauce of their actual search engine algorithm. They are clear that their goal is not to make your business more money, but to provide a better user experience to their consumers.
In the spirit of transparency about that goal, when it comes to their plans to shift to “mobile-first” indexing of websites, they provide a list of best practices for mobile-first indexing “to make sure that your users have the best experience.”
Google’s best practices advice will look familiar. It echoes the foundational SEO advice that Google has offered for years:
- Make sure Google can see lazy-loaded content (that requires a user action to see)
- Make sure Google can crawl and assess all the material on the site (unless you wish it hidden)
- Use the same metadata/structured data on mobile and desktop pages
- Make sure your ads don’t cause a bad mobile user experience
- Use high quality images on the mobile site
- Use a supported format, like .png for images and .mp4 for videos
- Use the same alt text on the mobile and desktop site
- Locate videos in easy-to- find spots, to make them easier to find on the mobile site
Best Practices for Mobile-First Web Design
Google has an entire section of the best practices document focused on suggestions for separate URLs. Here is a short list, but you can view all of the recommendations in Google’s best practices for mobile- first indexing document. Make sure:
- The error page status is the same on the mobile and desktop sites
- Avoid fragment URLs in the mobile site
- All desktop pages have equivalent mobile pages
- Verify both the mobile and desktop sites in Search Console
- If you offer multiple languages, check that hreflang links stay within its universe (mobile URLs link to mobile URLs, desktop to desktop)
- The mobile site can handle a higher crawl rate from search engines.
- Making sure the robot.txt directives are consistent between mobile and desktop sites.
This is just an overview of more detailed descriptions available in the linked page above. You can also find a troubleshooting section at the bottom of that page that reviews common errors that could impede your site from successfully converting to mobile-first indexing without a loss in SEO ranking results.