Why The Mobile Version of Your Website Matters Most for SEO in 2019

Your website is a marketing asset designed to do three things: generate leads, sales, and loyal visitors. Your ability to accomplish these goals depends on how well your website ranks in the search engines, especially Google.

In 2019, the mobile version of your website has the potential to affect your ranking in Google, and will affect all websites in the near future. Here’s why you need to spend a little more time optimizing for mobile:

Mobile usage has exploded in the last several years

Researchers estimate that 51% of people use only a smartphone to access the internet and by 2025, that number is expected to rise to 75%. Since mobile devices have become the standard, Google wants to make sure mobile users are given webpages in the SERPs designed for mobile devices. User experience is everything and many useful desktop features are limitations for mobile users.

Mobile traffic has now eclipsed desktop traffic. If you want to reach your market, you need to spend more time developing the mobile version of your website.

Mobile users make purchases with their smartphone

Some people may have earned a reputation for hogging the bathroom while aimlessly browsing the internet, but many smartphone users browse the internet with intention and purpose. Research published by buildfire demonstrates that consumers regularly make purchases on their smartphone via websites and mobile apps. In the United States alone, 82% of internet users report having used a mobile device to shop online. Mobile commerce sales are expected to reach $420 billion by 2021.

Mobile-friendly domain names matter

Your best bet in a mobile-first world is to get a short domain name consisting of one or two words. You’re not likely to score a single word .com as a fresh registration, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get one. A domain broker like Name Experts will negotiate a deal for a short, memorable .com name on your behalf.

With the majority of people relying on a smartphone for internet access, having a mobile-friendly domain name is crucial. Although it’s not an official term, a mobile-friendly domain name is simply a domain name that is less likely to get truncated on a mobile screen, and is easy to remember at-a-glance. Word of mouth advertising is harder to generate with a long domain name when a user is on a mobile device. Unlike on a desktop computer, a mobile user can’t just look up at the URL bar and know what domain name they’re on. Retrieving the domain name is a process.

Mobile browsers don’t all display page URLs until the user clicks on the address bar. A short domain name will be immediately visible in the address bar and won’t force the user to scroll horizontally to decipher a long domain name.

Google is implementing mobile-first indexing

Ranking in search engines isn’t easy for every niche, but many effective SEO methods are fairly straightforward and small businesses seem to do fairly well. Until recently, Google derived most ranking factors from the desktop version of a website. If the mobile version of a website wasn’t optimized, it didn’t necessarily affect the site’s rank in the search engine results pages (SERPs). Those days are ending.

Google has begun the massive task of implementing mobile-first indexing, which ranks websites according to the mobile version of each website regardless of the user’s device.

Mobile-first indexing is separate from mobile optimization. You don’t need a mobile-optimized site to get ranked. All desktop websites without mobile versions will still be indexed and ranked by the new system. However, if the mobile version of your website doesn’t provide access to all of your content, that’s when your rank will suffer. When Google crawls the mobile version of your site, if it can’t access content, it won’t get indexed.

You can’t opt in or out of mobile-first indexing. As of July 1, 2019, all new websites will be indexed using Google’s mobile crawler. It will take a while for Google to start crawling every existing website with the mobile bot. However, it’s coming so be ready.

Drill down on SEO basics

To get your mobile website ready, drill down on SEO basics just like you would for a desktop website. For instance, make sure page speed and time to first byte (TTFB) are optimized and include alt-attributes for all images. For a thorough explanation of how to optimize for mobile-first indexing, check out this guide published by Moz.