Google recently announced a major update that will change how websites are indexed. Starting July 5, 2024, all websites will be indexed using only Googlebot Smartphone. Put simply, if your website isn’t accessible on mobile devices, Google will no longer index it.

Here’s what John Mueller, Search Advocate at Google, wrote in an official blog:

“The small set of sites we've still been crawling with desktop Googlebot will be crawled with mobile Googlebot after July 5, 2024… After July 5, 2024, we'll crawl and index these sites with only Googlebot Smartphone. If your site's content is not accessible at all with a mobile device, it will no longer be indexable.”

For local businesses, this means it’s more important than ever to prioritize mobile optimization to ensure their sites appear in search results.

What is Google’s mobile-first indexing?

Google’s mobile-first indexing, started in 2016, is a way for them to rank websites based primarily on their mobile versions. This means that when someone searches for something online, Google prioritizes websites that offer a good experience on smartphones and other mobile devices.

In the past, Google used to look at your website’s desktop version to determine its search ranking. However, with the rise in mobile device browsing, its approach has changed.

Now, Google puts more emphasis on the mobile version of your website when deciding how to rank you in search results. This implies that if your website is visually appealing and works smoothly on a phone, you are more likely to appear near the top of search results.

A person using a mobile-friendly website on a smartphone.

Although Google’s transition to mobile-first indexing has been in progress for years, with most websites already optimized for mobile, some still rely on desktop-only versions. However, after July 5, 2024, Google will exclusively use the mobile version for indexing.

According to Google, the change will simplify its system and help site owners in debugging mobile issues.

What does it mean for your business?

If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, it risks becoming invisible in Google search results. This could lead to a drop in website traffic and potential customer engagement.

While many websites are already mobile-optimized, it’s important to verify that yours as well. Googlebot Desktop will still be used for specific searches like product listings and Google for Jobs, but the main focus will be on mobile accessibility.

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Benefits of mobile optimization

While it might require adjustments, Google’s mobile-first indexing is a blessing in disguise for businesses, as it forces them to prioritize the user experience on mobile devices – the platform most people use to search the web today. Here’s how mobile optimization can make a difference for your online presence:

1. Better User Experience (UX)

Mobile-friendly websites offer a better user experience, making it easier for users to stay engaged and reducing bounce rates. When a website is easy to navigate on a device, visitors tend to stay, potentially resulting in increased conversion rates.

2. Improved search engine rankings

Google prefers websites that are accessible on mobile when ranking search results. If your website is mobile-optimized, it has a better chance of showing up higher in search results. This can boost visibility, attracting organic traffic to your site.

3. Simplified SEO management

With a single crawler type, managing your site’s SEO becomes simpler. You won’t need to worry about different debugging issues between mobile and desktop versions, which makes it easier to maintain and improve your site’s performance.

4. Future-proofing your business

With the increasing usage of the internet, having a mobile-friendly website is crucial to keep your business up-to-date and competitive. Embracing mobile-first indexing early on will give you an edge and ensure that your online presence remains strong.

Discover the key to unlocking your website’s potential with Birdeye’s comprehensive guide on Mobile SEO, and learn how to optimize for the mobile-first world and enhance your online visibility.

Strategic recommendations for businesses

Taking proactive steps to optimize your website for mobile devices can have a positive impact on your business. Here are a few strategies you can consider:

1. Conduct regular site audits

Make sure to assess your website’s mobile usability using tools like Google’s mobile-friendly test and Lighthouse. Address any identified issues promptly to enhance user experiences and ensure smooth navigation.

2. Incorporate responsive design

Make sure your website is designed to adapt to different screen sizes and devices. Responsive design guarantees that your site looks appealing and functions smoothly on any kind of device.

3. Monitor site performance

Use Google Search Console and other SEO tools to keep an eye on your site’s performance. These tools monitor metrics such as mobile-friendliness, loading speed, and keyword ranking. Therefore, consistently reviewing these tools helps you pinpoint and address any issues that could impact user experience or your site’s search engine visibility. 

Google’s shift to mobile-first indexing is a wake-up call for businesses to prioritize mobile optimization. Ensuring that your website is easily accessible on mobile devices is crucial not only for staying visible in Google’s search results but also for providing a better user experience and continuing to attract and retain customers over time.

Optimize for mobile-first indexing and strengthen online presence with Birdeye

Through its mobile-first indexing strategy, Google prioritizes websites that deliver a seamless user experience on mobile devices. While it might sound challenging to get your site up to speed, Birdeye provides a suite of AI-powered tools to simplify the optimization process and strengthen your online presence.

Birdeye’s suite of tools is tailor-made to help you streamline your social media strategy, gather and leverage customer reviews, and boost your digital footprint. Whether it’s enhancing your social media management efforts or letting glowing reviews speak to your expertise, Birdeye is your partner in crafting a credible and respected online image. Watch our free demo to learn more about Birdeye.

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