When Google announces, online publishers jump. When Google announces that “mobile first” is the new mantra for high search rankings, should publishers jump again?
The answer is yes and no.
The answer is yes because all site publishers with a desire for high rankings should spend more time optimizing their sites for a pleasant mobile viewing experience.
The answer is no for sites that have strong desktop traffic and weak mobile traffic.
“Jump” may be too strong a word. Yes and no are two endpoints on a spectrum. The answer, as always, lies in the middle.
The point is not whether to optimize a mobile version of a site for Google. The point is how much effort should go into the optimization versus other priorities that produce more important results.
Personally, I let the WordPress Twenty Sixteen theme do all of the work for mobile optimization for this site. I focus more mobile effort on another, more important project. It recently had total mobile visits exceed desktop visits for the first time. So the shift of attention is reasonable.
As always, good judgment and common sense should prevail over an obsession with doing whatever Google announces. Even that behemoth isn’t always right and can’t always explain the nuances in publishing that impact what we do.
If nothing else, mobile first is a good idea if a site’s total mobile audience is greater than the desktop audience. Otherwise, it remains desktop first.
Even if the desktop audience is greater, it clearly is a mistake to ignore the mobile experience altogether.
So it’s best to keep an eye on the analytics and watch the ratio between a site’s desktop and mobile audiences. Prioritize time based on benefits and opportunities that fit the site. Increase attention to mobile as the mobile audience grows faster than desktop.