Gary Illyes is pretty much the “go-to-guy” at Google these days for statements relating to SEO and algorithm updates. When it comes to the highly anticipated mobile-first change in ranking strategy (indexing) Illyes reiterated three times last week that the change was still on its way.
Last year Illyes announced that the mobile-first indexing of websites was just months away. That sparked forward-thinking companies to invest in changing to mobile first as quickly as possible.
“The team behind the mobile-first index wants it to launch this year,” Illyes told members at the SMX West conference on Wednesday. “We’re still experimenting. We don’t have a timeline. It could be a few months or quarters, but it’s definitely not weeks [away]. Don’t freak out, especially if you have a responsive site.”
With mobile searches now making up over half of all searches on Google, it’s no surprise that they are committed to making the switch to mobile-search-driven indexing. What’s still uncertain, it seems, is when.
Why Should You Care?
Companies with separate mobile sites (think m.yoursite.com vs www.yoursite.com) should be especially nervous about the impact of the pending change. Many of these m. sites use canonicalisation to indicate to Google that it should ignore the mobile version of their site and use the desktop as the primary source for indexing. While this methodology has been sound to date (as it avoids issues around duplicate content), with the switch to mobile-first it could be disastrous.
If you haven’t already got a mobile-first (or at least fully responsive) website strategy in place or project underway then you should factor it into your budgets for the next financial year and get cracking. A decent website build project can take anywhere from 3-12 months from planning to go-live and you don’t want to be left scrambling to get things done at the last minute.
We have already seen a big uptake in web development projects this year where we’ve been asked to help with technical SEO recommendations.
Developers will no doubt get a lot busier (and will need to charge more) once Google makes changes that dramatically impact non-responsive or mobile-first sites.
Don’t wait and get caught in the rush when everyone is banging on web developers’ doors wanting new sites built and delivered “yesterday”.
Feel free to get in touch with me and I will be happy to have one of the team run a quick eye over your site and see if you are at risk.
Glenn is a Partner and Senior Consultant who has had a very successful career building growth companies in the private equity arena. He has a wealth of experience in both the digital space and strategy development. Prior to becoming a partner in SureFire Glenn built one of the largest digital teams in New Zealand for a NASDAQ listed global online marketing company & Google's largest premium partner.