What Google’s Move to Mobile-First Initiative Means to You and Your Website
Recently, Google announced they are making a significant shift in how they rank websites based on how the site ranks as a mobile website. Having a website’s mobile-friendly content indexed in this new Mobile-First fashion will help the site “perform better” in all search results.
A key factor in Google’s new mobile-first indexing is the content that the Google crawler finds on a website. Proper, compliant, responsive website development is more paramount to your company's search results than ever before! If the code base and design for your website have not been updated in quite some time, act now to ensure that your site is not lost somewhere deep in the Google indexes – never to be found in a search again.
With mobile-first, Google will use the mobile content as the primary source of data to determine relevance in ranking.
Especially on an eCommerce website, a mobile product page may remove some specifications or serve up a reduced description page, which under Google’s new mobile-first strategy could results in lower search rankings as not all data relevant to the product is being crawled.
Previously, Google would use the data it found on the desktop site as the primary “relevant” data, but with mobile-first, that focus shifts to the mobile site. [Source: eSeller Cafe]
We all know that having a responsive website has been important for years. The need for such has also certainly increased lately as more than half of all users are mobile. Google has simply taken the importance of a mobile / responsive website to the next level. While the industry knew it was going to happen from previous notices from Google, Google was a bit ambiguous about the timeline until the end of May, 2018.
Google notes the fact that the majority of people who use Google search today now do so from mobile devices, and have done so since 2015. Google also explains that it will have one index for search results, not a mobile-first index that’s separate from its main index. In other words, it will start to look to the mobile web pages to index the web, not the desktop version. [Source: Tech Crunch]
As Google points out, the world is full of micro-moments — the pivotal times when a consumer is interacting with a digital device to perform a search, be entertained, communicate with someone or buy something.
Marketers now need to look for mobile patterns, signals and clues to maintain a competitive edge. Organic search data will be key to identifying the key moments that matter — necessary information for strategizing in a new mobile era.
- Over 51 percent of smartphone users have discovered a new company or product when conducting a search on their smartphones. It all starts with search.
- There has been a 2x increase in “near me” searches in the past year. Think local.
- Searches related to “how to” on YouTube are growing 70 percent year over year. Produce mobile content that engages such as video.
- 82 percent of smartphone users consult their phone while in a store. Track, measure and attribute online and offline performance.
The online customer journey has now exploded into billions of key moments.
- By 2019, mobile ad spending is expected to increase to $195.55 billion, and mobile ads will account for 70.1 percent of all digital advertising, Source: Venture Beat.
- By 2019, PQ Media estimates that content marketing will be a $300+ billion industry.
- By 2020, SEO-related spending will be worth $80 billion.
- According to Google, 34 percent of online purchases now happen on a mobile device.
[Source: Search Engine Land]
Here are the clarifications in Google’s own words about mobile-first:
- URLs in search: With Mobile-first indexing, we index the mobile version. When we recognize separate mobile URLs, we’ll show the mobile URL to mobile users, and the desktop URL to desktop users – the indexed content will be the mobile version in both cases.
- Crawled counts: The total number of crawled URLs/day generally won’t change, but the balance will shift from mostly-desktop to mostly-mobile crawls. During a switch-over to mobile-first indexing we may temporarily crawl more as we reindex everything.
- Cached page: Unfortunately, it looks like we’re currently still not showing a cached page for many mobile-first indexed sites. This is a bug, not by design, and should get resolved over time. It’s just the UI, it doesn’t affect crawling, indexing, or ranking.
- Speed and mobile-first indexing: The mobile speed update in July is independent of mobile-first indexing. Fast sites are awesome for users, especially on mobile, since devices & connections there tend to be slower than with desktops.
- Mobile website UIs: Using “hamburger-menus” and “accordions” on mobile websites is fine.
- On requirements: Neither mobile-friendliness nor a mobile-responsive layout are requirements for mobile-first indexing. Pages without mobile versions still work on mobile, and are usable for indexing. That said, it’s about time to move from desktop-only and embrace mobile.
- On ranking: The mobile-first index doesn’t change anything for ranking other than that the mobile content is used. While mobile-friendliness is a ranking factor on mobile, being in the mobile-first index is not (… yet).
Search Engine Optimization
Tagged: Website Development, search engine optimization, responsive design, website design, mobile first