How to Navigate and Maintain Searchability
Google has been talking about their mobile-first index since 2016, but it took until the end of March, 2018 for Google to actually start implementing it. Since that time, the SEO community has been abuzz about how to best navigate this new Internet landscape. With mobile-first indexing, your mobile site is the starting point for what Google includes in their index and the baseline for how they determine rankings. It simply means that Google will search for content first on a mobile site, and then, if one isn’t found, will search for a desktop site. For website owners, it means that the mobile version will be considered the primary version of your website. If your mobile website contains less content than your desktop website, it could now impact whether users find your website at all.
Here are a few recommendations to help you maintain online visibility:
Focus on delivering a good mobile experience
Web developers and SEO strategists should put their focus on creating a quality mobile experience for their users. Google suggests creating the mobile version first, and then adjust for the desktop experience, rather than the other way around. A mobile site is the hardest to design, so getting that right will make building the desktop version more efficient. Building your mobile site first also helps you keep the focus on user experience by implementing the most essential features. Mobile has the most limitations regarding screen size and bandwidth, so if your site provides a good user experience on a mobile device, it will translate better to desktop. Be sure to deliver identical content and optimize for page speed and load times to reflect the best experience.
Duplicate Mobile Content on your Desktop Site
Using a responsive website approach ensures that the content is the same on a page-by-page basis from your desktop to your mobile site. And, since the mobile version will be considered the primary version of your website, you should also use the same structure markup and equivalent metadata to ensure consistency between sites. By optimizing your content for mobile first and using responsive design, you can eliminate most of the negative site performance concerns from mobile-first indexing. The more you ensure that the mobile version contains all relevant and valuable content, the more likely it is that your site will continue to rank well.
Stay on top of Google’s Ever-Changing Strategy
Search engine optimization is a rapidly changing world right now. Google’s ultimate goal for both mobile and voice search is to keep users within Google’s informational ecosystem by indexing the information contained on a page and making it available to the user via a Google search results page. This is a growing concern because it eliminates the need for the user to even go to the web page that contains the information. In 2017 more than 57% of mobile searches didn’t lead to website clicks because users are finding the information they need from a Google search results page without visiting a company’s website.
Google created the Google My Business tool to enable more relevant search information to be displayed within the Google ecosystem. As a website owner, you will want to control what Google displays by monitoring and updating your Google My Business page. As more companies sign up for this app, it will become an increasingly important source to help customers discover the products and services you provide, contact you, and find your location.
Infinite Scrolling on mobile search results pages will likely change how we think of page one ranking. That’s because Google’s infinite scrolling has reduced the number of URLs listed on a SERP to four with a “See more results” tab at the bottom to reveal additional listings. Not only does it alter an SEO page one strategy, it provides Google the opportunity to pepper ads throughout the listings, not just at the top of the SERP page. Whether infinite scrolling will make its way to website content is yet to be seen.
The Q&A tab on Google Maps app listings provides an opportunity for customers to ask questions directly to businesses. But, it will be the responsibility of the business owner to ensure that they acknowledge and address the questions in a timely way.
Will You Be Ready?
As mobile search becomes more prevalent, less users will be going to a website. Search Engine Optimization is rapidly becoming a game of how fast can Google get the information from a website into the Google landscape, or how can businesses add their information directly into Google. The biggest impact will be seen as traffic decreases because the website as a destination will become less important. The website as the hub of online marketing will give way to multiple information hubs each with their own reporting. Businesses and websites left unprepared are going to lose data and make a lot of rash decisions to solve what they think are traffic issues. New strategies will account for the shifting nature of users where ranking, visits, and page views are diminished, and being able report on the increasing number of outcomes that are occurring away from the website will become more critical.
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