- In a bit of a cry for help over the transition to Google’s looming Mobile First Index, Google’s Gary Illyes, tweeted about the need for SEO tool makers to build a Desktop to Mobile Comparison tool to check if a page is Mobile First ready.
- He listed four areas to focus these comparisons on: critical content, metadata, images and videos, structured data.
- He would also have included links, but apparently that’s too complicated for SEOs. Hmmm.
Actions to take:
- If you are using a responsive site, you have very little to check, aside from if you are hiding critical elements during the device shift (this is going to cause some issues during the mobile first shift).
- Realistically, using a responsive site with the same content available is the least risky way to ensure SEO rankings remain the same after the transition to mobile first indexing.
- If you are using separate URLs for your mobile site and your desktop site, then you are really up against it, you need to be very accurate in the way you align elements.
- Metadata includes things like href.lang tags, canonical URLs, rel=prev / next, as well as titles, descriptions etc. These should be consistent across desktop and mobile.
- Images and videos will be a fun element. Ideally the same images and videos will be available on the mobile experience as the desktop experience. However, in some instances it may make sense to not show some content on mobile, although it should be referenced. Google is making all sorts of re-assuring noises re content and devices: don’t believe them.
- If the same content is surfaced on desktop and mobile then the structured data should be the same across both sets of pages.
- “Critical content” is undefined, but it comes down to having the same content available on both – or at least the content surfaced on desktop, which is used for ranking, should be available on mobile.
- Links are a bit of a quagmire. Keep them visible and close to content on all formats.
- Click here to contact me to discuss ways to check and make sure your site is ready for Mobile First Indexing..
This should be a matter of some simplicity for the SEO tool makers. Unfortunately, they do not have a strong record of delivering tools which actually make a difference to your SEO. They are good at numbers, good at showing data, but not always very good at interpreting this data for insights.
Luckily, this in a number of respects is fairly binary. If “a” is on desktop, is it the same on mobile?, and vice versa. It should be easy to pull together a list of pages where things are not as they should be between mobile and desktop page variants.
The significant challenge will be in the sphere of “critical content”. Google is saying it is accepting of the need to place content into tabs, or accordions on mobile, but on desktop, it is a different matter. So, it is likely to play out like this: if you have visible content on desktop, and the same content is visible or hidden on mobile, that should be okay. If you think you can stuff tons of spam content into hidden tabs, which don’t show on desktop, you are in for the same world of non-ranking pain.
I’m intrigued by Gary Illyes comment on links. I think this and the content visibility issue are the areas where Google are really struggling to build a link graph that has the same quality as the current methodology. This is likely down to visibility and placement. It gets much harder on a responsive layout for Google to decide which links are important and which should be ignored. There’s a few blog articles just in that subject.
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