What Have You Been Doing These Last 3 Years? It’s Time to Adjust Your Business Website to Mobile-First Indexing (MFI)

IT Craft
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It is now official: Google has announced they are migrating from desktop-first to mobile-first indexing (MFI) algorithms.

The future has arrived: your website must be ready to achieve a mobile-first Google ranking.

It is now official: Google has announced they are migrating from desktop-first to mobile-first indexing (MFI) algorithms. This summer, the company will launch a robust MFI. Google continues to encourage online businesses to become more mobile friendly to stay relevant and also to provide website developers and administrators tools to create great business websites.

Here is a more granular approach on how you can adjust your WordPress-based website to a mobile-first world.

What Is MFI?

MFI is an algorithm developed by Google to create and rank search results based on mobile versions of content, and also including ranking positions for desktop users.

The difference: pre-2015, desktop results took precedence. The situation changed when Google specialists observed that the number of users who searched from mobile devices topped the charts. Google then started improving the mobile experience step-by-step.

What Steps Did Google’s Take Towards a Mobile-First World?

  • February 2015 – announced updates for a mobile-friendly search algorithm to rank mobile-friendly websites higher in mobile search.
  • April 2015 – kicked off the mobile-friendly algorithm.
  • July 2015 – started AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) project to boost content availability for mobile users.
  • April 2016 – announced it had started experimenting with mobile-first indexing.
  • October 2017 –started downgrading mobile websites using obnoxious off-page advertising.
  • June 2018 – plan to start MFI working to the full extent.

What Are the Main Strategies for Mobile-Oriented Websites?

There are four main strategies to create a mobile-friendly website:

  • Responsive and adaptive website
  • Mobile version of a website
  • PWA (Progressive Web Apps)
  • AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages)

Responsive and Adaptive Websites

In 2018, responsive and adaptive websites are the foundation of website development. CMSs like WordPress offer responsiveness by default.

Responsive websites tend to detect client type and adjust their layout based on the screen size of user device based on CSS code.

Adaptive websites use more advanced techniques making it possible to tailor the websites to the device itself, not just to its screen size. Adaptive website design provides greater flexibility with visual content like high-resolution videos, 3D models, and so on.

The main complaints about responsive websites are their sluggish response time (Google states average download time equals 22 seconds) and lack of usability. They are not always practical for the use on mobile devices.

Mobile Websites

A special website version designed for smartphones and tablets differs from the main website and has a different URL. When there is a mobile website and the main website detects a user trying to access it from a mobile browser, it redirects the user to a mobile version.

Usually, a mobile website is a simplified version of a desktop website. It works faster, consumes fewer resources and has less traffic.

The problem is often inconsistency.

Some sections on a webpage might be displayed incorrectly due to smaller screen sizes. In this case, developers tend to hide these sections in order to maintain high user experience. As a result, websites often hide relevant content visible on a full (desktop) version. For example, when you google something on a desktop, the search result is often unavailable when searching on a smartphone – a frustrating experience. Users cannot find the information they have previously seen on desktop.

Conversely, business owners introduce mobile websites targeting their smartphone and tablet audience by creating mobile-only features unavailable from a desktop.

What Does Google Offer to Improve User Experience?

To help mobile users access the content they want anytime, anywhere, without long loading time and browser errors, Google offers web developers two extra technologies: PWA and AMP.

PWA (Progressive Web Apps)

Progressive Web Apps are web pages or web apps that look like mobile apps with similar elements for interaction and navigation.

Good news: you can create an app from your WordPress website, right here, right now with minimal time and input, whether it’s a blog, an online store or a news portal and ready for offline usage—just like a native mobile app

Users download the DOM structure, save a website favicon on the screen and access the website through it.