[Mobile First Index in eCommerce] Everything on Google’s latest update and how to keep it from affecting your store’s SEO

Are you familiar with Google’s most recent update, Mobile First Index?

If the answer to that is ‘no’, then you’ll find this post useful, so you prevent it from affecting your eCommerce positioning. 

Yup, that’s right. 

Google —which is pretty clever— has noticed that more and more users are now browsing on their smartphones. 

That’s why they’ve launched this update, which completely changes web tracking and gives more importance to the mobile version (even more so than it already did). 

And since we don’t want this update to catch you off guard, in this post you’ll learn about: 

  • What Mobile First Index consists in (and the impact it may have on your eCommerce).
  • How to be prepared so that Google doesn’t affect you and it keeps on loving you as much as on day one.  

Let’s make the best (mobile) version of your store. 😉

👉 What is Mobile First Index is and how can it affect your eCommerce?

The concept behind Mobile First Index is pretty simple. 

Until recently, when Googlebot accessed your website to analyze it and register it on its database (indexing), it would “view” it as any user would from a desktop. 

That meant that, if your eCommerce’s mobile version had any mistakes (slow loading speed, images out place, etc.), it wouldn’t significantly affect your positioning. 

But now the tables have turned. 

Recently, Googlebot has started allocating more importance to the mobile version than to the desktop version. 

So those small errors that didn’t use to affect much now can mean the difference between being on Google’s first search results page —therefore getting visitors and customers— or not. 

How can you avoid this?

It’s pretty simple: by making sure your online store’s responsive version is optimized thoroughly to offer the best possible user experience. 

Here are a few tips. 

👉 Prepping for Mobile First Index: the essentials for optimizing your store’s mobile version without losing visibility

It’s about time we got started. 😉

Let’s see 4 best practices (plus an extra tip) to ensure your store offers a top-notch user experience on its mobile version. 

Let’s get on it!

✅ 1. Let’s start with the basics: How good is your store’s responsive version?

We assume your online store already has an adapted mobile version (mainly because Google has been penalizing webs without responsive design for years now). 

But that isn’t good enough. 

There are some typical errors that tend to go unnoticed but that highly affect user experience on mobiles.

For example: 

  • Any text in a small font size. 
  • When two clickable elements are very close to each other. 
  • Images being larger than the screen (as it happens with banners). 

This can happen even if your store’s website is designed with a mobile-optimized template. 

In order to detect these errors, you can use:

  • Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test: this test analyzes your website and flags any error it detects on your mobile version (and tells you how to fix it). 
  • BlueTree: this tool allows you to check how your website looks on different smartphone models. 
  • Google Search Console: on your Google Search Console dashboard, there’s a specific “Mobile Usability” tab where any error is reported. In addition, it offers a great deal of interesting information about your store’s SEO. If you’re still not using it, then we suggest you have a look at this tutorial.

Let’s take it up one notch. 

✅ 2. Have your website load as fast a lightning (or else users will fly away)

A mobile isn’t as powerful as a desktop (yet). And that’s why it’s way harder to get a decent load speed on a smartphone. 

Which is why optimizing every element of your mobile version is in your best interest.  

For example: 

  • Optimize images: compress image files so that they are smaller (we suggest smaller than 150 kb) and avoid large image files. Learn about it in this post. 
  • Be careful with sliders and videos: although videos and dynamic banners are now very trendy (especially on the homepage upper part), this can slow down the load speed. Besides, videos increase mobile data consumption, which your users surely won’t appreciate…). The best option is to replace them with a static image. 

Once you have implemented these tips, you can test your website speed on mobiles using Test My Site (also by Google). 

Note: if you want to optimize your website to the fullest, you can create an AMP version of your eCommerce. Interested? Learn more about it in this post. 

✅ 3. You have limited space; make the most of it

One of the biggest challenges of any website’s mobile version is to make the user feel comfortable browsing on a 5-inch screen with no mouse. 

That’s why you need to choose wisely the elements you’ll display and how you want to set them up. 

In other words: 

  • Avoid pop-ups: these kinds of notifications are a hassle on a phone screen. Most of the time, it makes the site glitch or it’s almost impossible to close and continue browsing. The user certainly wastes their time struggling with pop-ups like these. 
  • Make your website’s text mobile-friendly too: a 3-line paragraph may not be much on a desktop screen. But on a phone screen, the same text becomes an 8-line burden that makes you stop reading immediately. Just go with shorter paragraphs. 
  • Use large font sizes: even if the screen is smaller, the text must be readable —meaning you should go with a user-friendly font size. 

There’s more…

➡️ 3 elements that must be visible at all times

In order to improve user experience, there’s a series of key elements to improve navigability, which the user must always take into account. 

The usual thing is to include them as “floating” elements (which never leave the screen even if you scroll) so that the user can click on them at all times. 

✅ 4. Landscape vs. portrait orientation 

Last, when it comes to the layout, don’t forget to bear in mind the most evident difference between a desktop screen and a phone screen. While in the former we see the screen horizontally (landscape orientation), in the latter we have a vertical screen (portrait orientation). 

What does this imply? 

Let’s see an example. 

Check out this store’s above the fold for its desktop version. 

mobile-first-index

Now see how it changes for its mobile version. 

google-mobile-first-index

Its banner has been re-designed so that it adjusts to the mobile version, therefore protecting the message. 

It may seem evident, but there are still many eCommerces around using the same banner on both sites regardless of their orientation (so the banner is typically affected, overlapping the button or text with the image, etc.). 

✅ Extra tip: improve mobile searches with an advanced search engine

Have you been taking notes so far?

Well, we still have one more essential element for any eCommerce that feels like improving mobile experience: the internal search engine. 

Think about it. 

Whenever you browse on your smartphone (especially if we’re talking about a store with a huge catalogue), using the browser menu bar can be a little annoying, right? That’s why many users make use of the internal search engine. 

In fact, a growing number of users prefer to avoid typing and go with voice searches. 

But in order to be able to offer your customers all of that, you need to rely on an advanced search engine (or, as we call it, a smart one such as Doofinder). 

The thing is that Doofinder not only uses artificial intelligence to better understand your users’ needs (that’s where the smart bit comes from) but it also includes many specific features in order to improve mobile searches. 

And because of all these features, the stores using Doofinder have increased their conversions between 10% and 20%. 

And in case you want to see for yourself, you can try Doofinder in your store with this 30-day free trial. 

Try it and you’ll see the results reflected on your sales. 😉

👉 May Mobile First Index find you all prepped up (and ready to boost your sales) 

Having an optimized responsive version is not only important for SEO purposes. In addition, it is the best way to offer a good user experience and have your customers feel at ease in your store (and therefore buying more from you). 

Now, you’re up. 

Go over your eCommerce web and ensure it implements everything we have reviewed in this post for you. 

You’ll see your customers (and Google’s algorithm) thank you for it.