Home inspection websites mobile friendly

Is Your Site Mobile Ready?

Is Your Site Mobile Ready?

2021 will usher in some big changes in the SEO world, with one of the biggest coming in a few short weeks. Google has committed to switch to a mobile-first index starting March 2021. This move was confirmed by John Mueller, Webmaster Trends Analyst @ Google. Mueller has also provided more insight into this change and it’s ramifications so we thought it prudent to take a look at how these changes will impact your home inspection website and how to prepare for this change. 

Google Mobile-First Index Will Exclude ALL Desktop Content

This is a massive change. What it means is that any website that is desktop only will be dropped from Google’s index. Going even further, any content that is desktop-only will also be dropped or not indexed.

But what the heck is indexing and why do I care? Indexing is how Google organizes all publicly available websites. Bots crawl a website reading and cataloging every word on the page, taking note of signals like keywords or site freshness. Websites are then organized by their content and then presented to search users based on their perceived search intent. Google relates their ever-growing index to the index you might find in the back of a book. Google has a great article explaining how they organize all this data.

So what? Well, according to the new mobile-first indexing method, if your home inspection website isn’t mobile ready then it won’t even show up in search results. That’s a big deal, considering that most of your prospective clients will begin their purchasing journey online, typically using a search engine. And, of course, Google basically owns the search market, which has become a point of contention on Capital Hill. 

Mueller made Google’s direction and implication clear in a recent talk.

“…we’re now almost completely indexing the web using a smart phone Googlebot, which matches a lot more what users would actually see when they search.

And one of the things that we noticed that people are still often confused about is with regards to, like if I only have something on desktop, surely Google will still see that and it will also take into account the mobile content.

But actually, it is the case that we will only index the mobile content in the future.

So when a site is shifted over to mobile first indexing, we will drop everything that’s only on the desktop site. We will essentially ignore that.

…anything that you want to have indexed, it needs to be on the mobile site.

And the final deadline we’ve come up with is March 2021.”

M-Dot Index Bug

While the m-dot index bug will probably not impact most home inspection websites, it’s still a good idea to note it, then check your website. An “m-dot” is a separate version of your website that is hosted on a different subdomain like m.homeinspector.com. M-dot websites were the industry’s first generation solution to answer the lurch toward mobile browsing. M-Dot websites are specifically optimized for mobile, but, according to Mueller, there is a known bug in Google’s new mobile-first indexing that may prevent desktop users from accessing the desktop version of a m-dot site. Because m-dot websites are mobile friendly they can show in search results, but even if they do, the searcher may never reach to the actual site due to this bug. 

So, if you have a m-dot site, it might create a significant chink in your SEO armor. 

“One of the things around mobile first indexing that sometimes pops up, especially if you’re working on larger or older sites that have kind of the the m-dot setup…

When it comes to mobile-first indexing, this makes things a lot trickier. So we can process these but what will happen is we will only index the m-dot version of the site and it can happen that we show the m-dot version of the site in the desktop search results.

Usually we try to show the appropriate version, desktop or mobile version, in the search results, the URL at least. The indexed content is… only the mobile version.

But with m-dot sites it can sometimes happen that we just have the m-dot version where we didn’t actually pick up that there’s a connection to a desktop version here. This is a lot more likely if you have a m-dot version and use an hreflang.

The only solution there is essentially to make sure that you redirect your users from the m-dot version to the desktop version when they use a desktop browser.

And I don’t see us changing this in the near future or probably at all.”

How to Prepare

While this change isn’t cataclysmic (Y2K!!), it could still significantly impact your ability to connect with new leads and foster confidence in your current Rolodex of clients. If you’ve spent years cultivating a nice online presence, but haven’t had a checkup on your website in a while, then nows the time to do it. Even if you’re site was developed to be Responsive or Progressive, it would still be a great idea to check over your site, because some content may not be mobile-first ready, therefore it won’t index. 

A good litmus test is to pull up your website on your phone. If it looks terrible, then it needs an update. If you haven’t already hooked your website into Google Search Console, now we would a great time to. Google Search Console is a simple way to learn what Google “thinks” of your website’s indexability. GSC will even give you some tips on how to improve your search results. Plus, it’s a Google service so it’s tuned to their algorithms, oh, and it’s FREE. 

If you want to ensure that your clients can still find your home inspection website after March, then hit us up. We can do a quick check on your site and let you know what we would recommend. If your website stops being indexed after March, we can get you back in the game lickity split.

Need help with your SEO game? We can help with that too!

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