Yes… you read that correctly! According to an article posted by Search Engine Journal on October 14, 2020… Desktop sites will be dropped and m-dot sites may experience bugs in Google’s anticipated March 2021 mobile first index update.
Google first started rolling out it’s mobile-first algorithm in 2016, which affected website rankings in Google’s search results. This emphasis on “mobile first”, stemmed from the fact that most people use mobile devices to access the internet, such as smartphones, tablets, and even handheld gaming devices.
Smaller screens do not render pages as easily as desktops do, and are often using lower bandwidth speeds to do so. Because of this, Google has repeatedly pushed admins and marketers to create Responsive websites to improve user experience regardless what the type of device they’re using.
What’s a Responsive Website?
A responsive website adapts to the type of device being used to access it. For each visitor, the website will automatically adjust the layout of its content to match the visitor’s screen size. For example, content may be displayed in three-column format for a user accessing the website via a desktop computer, two-column format for a user accessing the website via a tablet, or in one-column format for a user accessing the website using a smartphone.
A responsive website has the advantage of being the best way to achieve parity of access to content for all visitors to your website, regardless of which device they are using to access it.
This has obvious advantages in terms of the development and maintenance costs of developing a single site vs the main site plus a separate dedicated mobile site, as well as simplifying the content management planning processes.
How This Update Effects M-Dot Sites
Google reports that it’s progress with mobile-first indexing so far has already revealed potential problems. One of the most concerning is that m-dot websites (Mobile Only Websites) may no longer function as optimally as they used to. Google currently has no plans to re-work the algorithms around them.
Companies that have less content on their mobile websites may also experience a drop in traffic, even when websites meet functional requirements. This stems from the fact that most m-dot websites contain less content than their desktop version affecting how much and what content Google has to index for ranking purposes.
Google has officially set a March 2021 deadline for companies to create Responsive websites. At that point, Google will no longer index desktop-only websites. In fact, desktop-only websites already in the index will be dropped. If you’re not sure if your website is already subjected to mobile-first indexing, use Google’s Mobile Friendly Test Tool.
The Key Takeaway
Companies that procrastinate on the creation of mobile websites that meet Google’s new guidelines will experience a severe drop in traffic and online sales. Because this is an entirely new way of indexing and ranking content, companies also need to prepare for traffic fluctuations and other online marketing problems by hiring seasoned professionals.
Sprout Media Lab has been creating Responsive websites for our clients for over eight years. We also provide additional services to complement this, such as search engine optimization, social media marketing and conversion rate optimization. If you’re ready to take your website to the next level, so you can continue to serve your customers, contact us today!