From July 1st Onwards, Google’s Mobile-First Indexing Will be the Default for All New Domains

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It is no secret that mobile devices have taken the world by storm. Seen as somewhat of a curiosity only a few short years ago, mobile computing devices like smartphones and tablets have become an indispensable part of our everyday lives. In today’s connected world, mobile devices are the go-to source for finding information about the businesses and services nearby. Google has responded to these demands, creating a mobile-first index that favors websites with mobile-friendly features in search results. In SEO for insurance agents, having your agency’s website optimized for mobile device users is of the utmost importance; Google announced that its new index will be the default starting on July 1, 2019. 

Google’s Push for Mobile-Friendly Websites

Starting in 2017, search engine giant Google announced that it would begin to roll out a revolutionary new search index, one that emphasized mobile-friendly sites in search results ahead of sites designed for desktop environments. In December 2017, the first iteration of the mobile-friendly index was launched, and subsequent months saw revisions and updates to the core search algorithm. 

Why did Google focus on mobile-friendly sites in search results? The answer lies in user habits; according to a leading search engine industry resource, more than 50% of all global searches come from mobile devices. In the United States, nearly 60% of searches are conducted on smartphones and tablets. Because so many people rely on mobile computing to retrieve information, it makes smart business sense to favor mobile-optimized sites – sites that display correctly on all screen sizes and those that ensure functionality across computing platforms. 

Influencing Search Rankings?

Almost immediately after Google introduced its mobile-first index, dramatic shifts in rankings were experienced by a number of industries, particularly in sites that provide legal guidance, automotive information, and information resource/reference sites. These three categories of websites typically lagged behind other industries in adopting mobile-friendly features, which resulted in declines in search rankings. Several other industries saw higher or lower rankings as a result of the new index. While most website rankings have stabilized since the introduction of the mobile-first index, the landscape is getting ready to shift again.

New Websites: The Focus of Mobile-First Indexing

Starting on July 1, 2019, all new websites – described by Google as “previously unknown to Google Search” – will be indexed using the mobile-first index as a default. Existing sites, particularly those that have implemented mobile-friendly features and functionality, have already been moved to the new index. Other sites not yet ready for mobile indexing will be moved to the new index once they have adopted mobile-friendly features

Insurance agencies launching new sites near or after July 1 will need to have mobile-friendly features in place, or they may face poor search visibility. These features include:

  • Responsive page design – designing the underlying site code to display text and images correctly according to which device is accessing the information (desktop or mobile). 
  • Mobile-first design; developing sites for mobile devices ahead of desktop access. 
  • Apps or functions designed for ease of use in mobile computing environments.
  • Fast-loading pages – the key to a positive mobile computing experience. 
  • User interfaces that are easy to navigate and easy to use, even with finger taps or swipes.

It is important to note that the Google Mobile-First Index is not a mobile-only index; sites that have not implemented mobile-friendly features are not currently penalized, and will still appear in search results. However, going forward, sites that are not mobile-friendly may begin to experience declines in ranking. Google has not indicated if, or when, they will impose ranking penalties on web properties that fail to adopt mobile-friendly features. In SEO for insurance agents, it is a good idea to implement those features now to ensure great search visibility for your agency’s website. Missing out on the opportunities represented by mobile device users can negatively impact the growth and success of your business. 

About Agency Tsunami

Agency Tsunami is the digital marketing division of Neilson Marketing Services, who has provided the insurance distribution sector with innovative marketing and communication solutions for over twenty-five years. With our Agency Tsunami program, we have implemented an integrated marketing strategy that includes optimized, professional websites supported by high-quality SEO and Social Media for hundreds of insurance retailers and wholesalers. Our goal is to help your insurance business perform and generate new opportunities. Give us a call at (800) 736-9741 to learn more about how we can do that for you.

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