A few months ago Google started rolling out the so-called “mobile-first”index. Which affects everyone on the way their website gets ranked. Google isn’t the only one that’s moving to mobile first behavior.
A third of people now say their mobile is their primary device for accessing the internet, meaning content format must fit consumers’ on-the-go habits. Mobile notifications will play a larger role in how customers discover content.
It’s time for all businesses to include mobile strategies into their SEO plan.
Google’s Push for Mobile (a little background)
Do you remember the dreaded mobilegeddon? Mobilegeddon is a name given by webmasters and web developers to Google’s algorithm update of April 21, 2015. The main effect of this update was to give priority to websites that display well on smartphones and other mobile devices. The change did not affect searches made from a desktop computer or a laptop.
We (planned ahead and) survived Mobilegeddon, but it’s shocking how many websites are still not mobile friendly.
If you’re not sure if your website is mobile friendly… test it out.
Visit https://search.google.com/search-console/mobile-friendly to see if your website is mobile friendly.
For a more in-depth look at how various mobile devices view your website, check out Mobile Emulator.
Google’s Moves to “Mobile-first” Indexing
A few months ago Google started rolling out the so-called “mobile-first” index. Which affects everyone on the way their website gets ranked.
What does mobile-first mean? And how does it work?
Google crawls your website and adds pages to its index. It does this by using a bot to run around your website like a real visitor and follows links on your pages. Google used to crawl your site as a desktop user. Now, however, Google will crawl your website as a mobile user.
If your site isn’t mobile-friendly site and you’ve been justifying keeping it as is, because less than 10% of your traffic comes from mobile devices, be prepared to lose that 10%.
If Goggle sees that your site isn’t mobile-friendly in time it will stop displaying it on mobile devices. In 2017, Google is getting very serious about the mobile experience.
Google wants its users to have a great experience searching on their phones. If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, loads slow, or worse doesn’t load at all it equals a bad experience. Google doesn’t want users to have bad experiences. Thus, they will start to lower your ranking and move up sites that provide a better user experience.
Responsive Website Design
Responsive website design is Google’s recommended way to tackle mobile-friendly sites and, as such, is the approach you should take unless you have very strong reasons not to.
Responsive web design serves the same HTML code on the same URL regardless of the users’ device (desktop, tablet, mobile, non-visual browser), but can render the display differently (i.e., “respond”) based on the screen size. Check out Understanding Responsive Design for more information on this topic.
Responsive design has been around for a while, so this is not a new concept. However, we still see sites that are technically responsive while not providing a strong experience for mobile users.
Forward Thinking with AMP (don’t be scared)
Accelerated Mobile Pages project (AMP for short) is a new Google initiative to build a better, more user- friendly mobile Web by introducing a new “standard” for building web content for mobile devices.
AMP in action consists of three different parts:
- AMP HTML is HTML with some restrictions for reliable performance and some extensions for building rich content beyond basic HTML.
- The AMP JS library ensures the fast rendering of AMP HTML pages.
- The Google AMP Cache can be used to serve cached AMP HTML pages.
While many SEO experts are starting the conversation about AMP and some testing it out, it’s still relatively new and has many issues that suggest small business hold off on implementation.
I don’t think now is the right moment for all businesses to jump on the AMP train, but it is something to consider in the future. If you’re running a WordPress website there are plugins that can be used to tackle this task. However, there are technical considerations. It’s not just as easy as uploading a plugin and turning it on.
To learn more about AMP, visit https://www.ampproject.org/.
Mobile SEO Takeaways
It’s time for all businesses to include mobile strategies into their SEO plan. It’s not just about what Google wants it’s also about your users’ experience.
Confirm that your website is mobile friendly and check out Mobile Emulator to see what your site looks like on a wide variety of mobile devices.