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September 12, 2018

Does Mobile-First Indexing Impact Internal Link Best Practices?

The introduction of mobile-first indexing by Google this year has had a drastic effect on how some websites are performing in the SERPs and how businesses have had to adapt their overall online operation to cater. However, there are some areas of this update that are still foggy to most and one of these is the best practices for internal linking within your site. Is internal linking still important, and how should we consider laying it all out? We’re investigating, below.

What Is Mobile-First Indexing?

Mobile-first indexing has been upon us for quite some time now, but despite clarifications posted by the search engine giant, it’s still something that many businesses are struggling with. Essentially, mobile-first indexing was introduced in order to put mobile versions of a website first. Due to the ever-increasing popularity of using mobiles for our everyday searches, this was an understandable change, but it has since meant that websites have to improve their mobile offering. Google are now crawling mobile versions of a website first in order to determine ranking positions. While desktop was reported to still be important, more and more companies are starting to focus on mobile. So, how does this have an effect on linking?

Common Linking Styles And How They May Perform On Mobile

With the above in mind, how do you turn your desktop navigation into something mobile-friendly? As most webmasters will know, there are different ways of displaying links on your website, and they are as follows:

  • Main Navigation

On your desktop, a main navigation is likely to sit at the very top of your website within the header, with extra links and other navigation-related content in a simple footer. However, this isn’t possible on mobile sites. With what can sometimes be hundreds of links within a website, providing a bulky navigation from the offset is often considered too much for mobile and in most cases, even on desktop too. To craft a useable and understandable crawl path, it’s best to avoid putting all of your links into one main navigation.

  • HTML Sitemaps

Sitemaps are often linked to in the website’s footer and can provide a visitor access to every page located on the website. In theory, this is a great way of forming navigation, especially when designed in an attractive manner. However, many sitemaps are considered ‘noindex,follow’ and as Google has developed, this becomes nofollow. What this essentially means, is that Google won’t pay attention to any additional links added to your HTML sitemap and therefore, you’d need to index your site in order for it to be noticed and followed. This isn’t always feasible for large sites, but for those keen to ensure all of their pages are indexed on Google and crawl-able, it may be worth considering regardless.

  • Link Blocks

Link blocks are essentially a form of drop down where the content and links are hidden behind ‘blocks’. In these cases, Google will not treat the content below these drop-downs in the same way as they’d treat any visible links and content, but this is often considered the best way to link on mobile. Given the size of a mobile screen, however, there’s no room for bulky footers or headers and drop-downs often provide the cleanest and most smooth scrolling experience.

Clear Internal Links Are A Vital SEO Best-Practice

If you’ve been assuming that mobile-first indexing means better linking practices, then you’d be right; with this update, linking within a mobile sight needs to be clear, concise and user-friendly. Google’s bots need to be able to navigate your site easily in order for them to deem your website user-friendly and the same still counts for mobile. Simple navigation that is easy to access and understand will undoubtedly rank higher than a cramped, confusing system that will drive visitors away.

Mobile-first indexing has changed a lot about SEO best practices and this, of course, includes internal linking. Finding the right navigation system that sits neatly, cleanly and avoids looking bulky or confusing ,is the best way to promote a smoother experience not only for Google’s bots, but for your users too.

For help with your mobile site or for more information on mobile-first indexing, get in touch with us, today.



Steve Plummer

Steve’s role at Absolute Digital Media sees him tackling a multitude of tasks on a daily basis. Whether it’s managing the SEO strategies for our clients, liaising with them on a regular basis to keep them informed on how their campaign is progressing or making sure our in-house teams are delivering to our clients’ expectations, he plays a big role in making sure everything runs smoothly.

Having worked in marketing for 8 years and within SEO for 3 years, as well as being qualified in the Google Analytics IQ self-study assessment, Steve brings a lot of valuable experience to the role.

When he isn’t actively researching new SEO methods and keeping abreast of the industry as a whole, Steve regularly attend the gym and is a keen supporter of his local football team, Southend United.

Email s.plummer@absolutedigitalmedia.com

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