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What’s up with Google’s Mobile First Index?


In this week’s Wednesday Workshop, we share more information about Google’s impending Mobile First Index. I was up in Seattle last week for SMX Advanced, one of the top digital marketing conferences in the country, and I say in on a session about the upcoming update.

A Google representative shared several important tidbits about the update, including when we should expect it and what’s going to be changing. Check out the video for all the details.


Welcome back to another Wednesday Workshop from DealerOn. In last week’s video, the Hair and I talked about not hiding text on your home page, and I mentioned Google’s impending “mobile-first” index. I’m back this week with more detail about what that means, and when it’s coming.

I spoke at SMX Advanced in Seattle last week, and I sat in on a session where the update was discussed in detail. Most importantly, Google said that we shouldn’t freak out. While they had originally planned on rolling out the switch this year, it’s now many quarters away, definitely not happening until at least 2018.

So what exactly is it? Currently, when Google’s bots crawl your site and add it to the index, they’re crawling the desktop version of your website. If you’ve got content that exists only on your mobile site, that content won’t get indexed, which means it won’t show up in Google searches.

The “mobile-first” index is flipping things in the other direction. After the update is released, Google will be crawling your mobile site instead of your desktop. And, if you’ve got content on your desktop site that isn’t on your mobile site, that content won’t get indexed and won’t show up in Google searches!

That’s where a lot of sites are in trouble. We all know that there’s a lot less room on a smartphone screen than on a desktop screen, and many websites decide to remove content from the mobile site to make it look prettier. We see tons of dealers who have no text at all on their mobile site’s home page. If the “mobile-first” index were active today, those dealers would lose TONS of traffic because they wouldn’t show up in searches.

Currently, if you’ve got text that is hidden behind a “read more” link or inside an accordion, the hidden text is devalued, which means it won’t show up well for searches. Google understands that the reduced real estate on mobile is a big issue, so they said that text that’s hidden in mobile accordions will still be counted and indexed.

Another important topic covered in the session was Google’s Page Speed Insights tool and Mobile Friendly Test Tool. These tools are meant to give developers some help with understanding best practices – they’re NOT an actual score for how mobile-friendly your site is.

One of the speakers gave a hilarious example – The Washington Post’s mobile site is responsive, and it passes the Mobile Friendly Test… but it takes over 40 seconds to load!

Google wants to be sure that people will be ready for the “mobile-first” index before it’s rolled out, which is why it’s not being released until at least next year. But, you know it’s coming, so you’ve got to be sure that your dealership is ready. You need a responsive site that loads quickly. Most importantly, if you want to show up for content, you need that content on your mobile site.

That’s it for this week’s Wednesday Workshop. As always, if you’ve got questions or comments, leave ‘em down below and we’ll get back to you shortly. Thanks for watching, and we’ll see you again next week for another Wednesday Workshop from DealerOn.

Author Greg Gifford

Greg Gifford is the Vice President of Search at DealerOn. He has over 16 years of online marketing and web design experience, and has specialized in automotive SEO for the last 8 years, helping hundreds of auto dealers thrive while the industry has struggled during the recession. Greg speaks internationally at both automotive and SEO conferences, teaching thousands of small business owners and marketers how to get their sites to show up higher in local search rankings. Greg also spends his spare time doing freelance website design and SEO for local businesses. He graduated from Southern Methodist University with a BA in Cinema and Communications, and has an obscure movie quote for just about any situation.

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