How Google's New Mobile First Index Will Affect Small Business Websites

There's been a lot of focus lately on mobile optimized websites, but on March 1, 2021 Google will be changing the game in a major way. If you rely on Google for people to find your business, and who doesn't these days, then this shift will impact you if you aren't fully prepared.

Mobile Design Takes The Lead

As a mobile website maker here in Colorado, it's going to be imperative to begin focusing not just on "mobile" design, but responsive mobile design. The two are different. You can have a mobile-friendly site that isn't responsive. Many businesses will fall into this category and not even realize it.

So what is the difference? Responsive websites dynamically adapt to different screen sizes. And it's not just about shrinking down the page, it's about the content behaving differently. For example, on a desktop you might have some content, images, and a form. This works well but when you view it on a phone, the form might shift down to where the user can simply use their thumb to fill out the details. The images might change and the content might even be different. Same for a larger screen size like a tablet.

Why is the mobile first responsive shift so important? It all comes down to user experience, and Google is making a drastic shift toward optimizing for it in every single way.

So what's happening on March 1st? On March 1st, 2021 Google will be changing their algorithm to give priority to mobile-first sites over desktop. To be fair, a lot of websites already have shifted to a mobile-first design, but there are plenty who have not and they will definitely see a penalty.

This all makes sense given that 53% of mobile users abandon sites if they take longer than 3 seconds to load.

It's all about speed. Optimizing for mobile is one thing, but optimizing for both mobile and speed will be the new gold standard. So while your site might be a mobile-first site, if it loads slowly due to bloated code or image size, etc. then you will get penalized there as well.

Get Prepared For The Mobile Shift

It's time to make a change and shift toward mobile-first, responsive sites that are both dynamic and fast. In many cases it's possible to do this with your current website design so the cost won't be as high as a new design. But also, it's good to think outside the box, work with a freelance website designer who won't charge big agency fees and will maintain your site.

It's been a long time coming but Google is finally going to all-in on mobile and it's truly welcoming. As a mobile user myself, I know how frustrating it can be to go to a site and get really frustrated while using my phone. The user experience here is key. So make sure to work with someone that understands UX and tries to help by learning about your business.

Happy 2021 and welcome to the mobile-first universe of web design. Got any questions? reach out and we can answer them.

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