Why mobile-first will have devastating effects for big business

A while ago, Google said it would eventually move to a mobile-first index model. We were wondering exactly what that meant, so we ran some numbers. We know Google’s traffic is between 50% – 70% mobile right now, and the old idea of having a mobile-only or m-dot only index is dead. Based on what we learned at Pubcon a couple of weeks ago, it’s not going to happen. Instead, the current wisdom is that if you have a dynamic and responsive site, you really don’t have to make any changes right now.

On the other hand, if you’ve got a separate mobile site, you’d better start working on content and structured data parity between your mobile and desktop sites. When Google makes this change to mobile-first, your site is going to lose a huge percentage of its business if you don’t. If you’ve got an m-dot site, it’s going to get all of Google’s traffic, and if you don’t have the content there, your traffic is going to drop like a stone.

All that’s going to be in the index is what’s on mobile sites. The problem with this is if it happened today in Australia, it would be a disaster. Huge branded sites like Realestate.com.au, Bupa and the National Rugby League are going to lose 50% – 99% percent of their traffic. News Corp’s local sites will virtually all disappear. We’d be left with a Google that just doesn’t work any more.

So if you’re running an m-dot, maybe you shouldn’t any more. If you do, start to work on content parity right now. Otherwise, stick to dynamic sites to avoid losing traffic when Google decides to make the big switch.

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