In November 2016, Google shared an article on its Webmaster Tools blog which noted that he majority of search users turn to Google from a mobile device rather than a standard desktop or laptop. This, it said, caused problems as the Google algorithms were designed to crawl traditional web pages with lots of content, rather than the shorter and often content-light versions of mobile web pages.
In this post, the search engine revealed that in order to make its results useful, it had begun experimenting with mobile first indexing. Rumours of mobile first have been around for a while but, it’s not until this post that Google said that it would make this shift – a potentially massive change to a system established decades earlier.
So, what does mobile first indexing mean for you and how can you prepare your hotel site for this seismic change?
1. Understand what mobile first means
The first step to creating hotel responsive web design
is to understand what the search engine is looking for. The mobile first index means that Google’s algorithms will use the mobile version of your site (rather than the desktop version used currently) as its primary means of understanding page content and ranking your site in its results pages.
2. Check page load times
Mobile visitors are known to be impatient, and bounce rate tracks up exponentially as page loading time lags. Google has previously stated that page loading time will be a factor so, you’ll need to ensure that the mobile version of your site renders quickly and offers a speedy experience to web users. Creating a fast loading hotel responsive web design isn’t just important for mobile first indexing – trends show that travellers (especially millennials) increasingly browse, search and book travel products including hotel rooms on mobile devices. To avoid them getting frustrated and taking their booking to a competitor, make sure your pages load quickly on mobile.
Google has a page load speed checker.
3. Use structured markup
Google recommends that you use structured markup on the mobile and desktop versions of your site. If you already have this in place on mobile, check that you don’t have surplus or large and unwieldy markup on the mobile version.
4. Use AMP
Accelerated Mobile Page (AMP) is an open source Google project which was launched to help provide a more accessible web for mobile users. In essence, it uses a truncated version of HTML to speed up page loading times.
Installing AMP and using it across your mobile content can help to improve search visibility and will put your hotel site in a better place when the mobile first index officially launches.
5. Compress images
Very large images and videos can be slow to load on mobile devices and often aren’t suited to the smaller screens of smartphones and tablets. Use an image compressor to make larger image sizes smaller, and keep file size in mind when you’re saving new images to publish on your site.