In November 2016, Google announced that its indexing will be flipped around and mobile results will get priority over the desktop.
Most research still suggests Google is taking a soft approach and allowing desktop-friendly websites to appear even if they’re not very mobile-friendly. In the coming months, however, this will change.
Google has always quantified its results with user experience in mind. With more users searching through their mobile devices, its current algorithm is viewed as redundant.
Currently, results shown on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) are skewed. Mobile pages typically have less content than desktop pages. The algorithm doesn’t evaluate the actual mobile page; the results shown to mobile users are usually not qualified for the mobile experience.
Hence, the shift towards a mobile first algorithm.
What Should Websites Change?
Structured Data: Google will look at structured data and show snippets from web pages in its results. Websites will need to provide structured markup for both the desktop and mobile version of their website.
Concise Information: Structured data will have to be more concise and specific to the information of each page of the website.
Add More AMP Pages: Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) will be given preference since they increase speed and improve user behavior.
Site Speed: Site speed needs to be first-rate. Mobile pages should be skeleton versions of the desktop website. This will ensure the information is delivered fast and with better accessibility. Use CDN, minify files, clean up Java, leverage browser caching, etc.
Finger level design: Everything should be catered to be clickable. Design with the mobile users in mind when creating Call to Actions (CTAs).
What Won’t Change?
Need for a Responsive Design: A responsive website or a dynamic website where the structured markup is both mobile and desktop-friendly is acceptable for the new algorithm.
Status of Page SEO: With more focus on specific information, you need to ensure that metadata is to the point. It needs to work well with marketing aspects and keywords for best possible search engine results.
The importance of Content: As Google focuses more on mobile, voice search will also be given validation. Creating content that’s more semantic and focused on industry trends will provide a better search experience.
Improved User Experience: Mobile users want instant results. A high bounce rate will mean a low user experience. Continued focus on User Experience (UX) design will improve the ranking and overall reputation of the website.
Websites need to put mobile design and speed first. Procrastinating will mean huge changes in search engine ranking and low traffic flow in the coming months. Google always takes a soft approach as it rolls out an algorithm but when the change is made, the penalties begin to be applied. In order to seamlessly continue digital and ecommerce marketing, the focus in next few months will be to make sure all websites are 100% mobile-friendly.
Mobile First Google Algorithm @ Hubspot
Mobile First Indexing @ Google Blog