Google will soon be transitioning to a new mobile-first index – resulting in some of the biggest changes to the search engine in recent years.
What is the mobile-first index?
A mobile-first index will mean that Google will now rank websites based on the mobile version of the site, instead of looking at the desktop version first, which was how sites have been indexed previously.
Essentially, the mobile version of your site will now be the primary version of your website in the eyes of Google.
Why is Google making this change?
The way people access the internet has changed significantly over the past few years.
In 2015, users searching on the internet on mobile devices surpassed users searching on desktop computers. Currently, 3 out of every 5 searches happens a mobile.
To reflect this change, Google are updating their search engine to focus on delivering sites that offer the best possible experience on a mobile device.
Google recently released a blog post informing webmasters on how they can get ready for the mobile first index: https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2017/12/getting-your-site-ready-for-mobile.html
What does this mean for how sites are ranked?
In short, if you do not have a site that offers a mobile friendly experience your rankings in Google could be negatively impacted, whilst a site with a better mobile experience could potentially climb ahead of you in the rankings.
With Google dominating the web in terms of referral traffic, a drop in rankings could see you losing a lot of potential customers.
How do I make sure my rankings aren’t affected?
If your site is responsive or you have a mobile and desktop version of your site with identical content, you shouldn’t see any negative impact on your position in search engines.
Although, even with a responsive site, you will need to ensure that mobile page speed and load times are prioritised and that images and other dynamic elements are optimised correctly for the best possible mobile experience to guarantee that you can stay ahead of the competition.
If you have a separate mobile site, you will need to make sure that all content matches up with your desktop, as you will be penalised if your mobile site is lacking in content.
This update is likely to happen within the next few months, so it is vital that businesses prepare now if they don’t want to see their rankings fall.
How can eSterling help?
Here at eSterling we can carry out a full website audit which will tell you if your website is mobile friendly and ready for the mobile first index. If your website doesn’t currently offer a great mobile experience, we can help you build a responsive site that will work and look great on all smartphones, tablets & desktop computers and provide your users with a great experience.
Get in touch with us today on 0121 766 8087 to discuss how we can help your website and stop you from loosing out when Google’s Mobile First Index goes live.
As you are probably aware Google are rolling out an update on the 21st April 2015 to penalise websites which aren’t mobile friendly.
The reason for this is Google are looking to improve the experience that website visitors receive when going to websites that are recommended by Google in the search results. Google feel that if they don’t provide their users with websites that are mobile friendly and provide the user with a good experience, then these users may use a different search engine to find the content that they are looking for.
Google are simply trying to ensure that their users have an optimal experience no matter what device they are using. Remember this is an opportunity to not just improve your website to meet Google Guidelines but to also bring your website up to date and provide a great user experience for potential customers that may be viewing your website.
There are more than 1.5 billion mobile Internet users worldwide and roughly 80 percent of Internet users own a smartphone and over 55% of searches on Google.com come from Mobile or Tablet Devices.
For more information about how this update can affect your website contact us on 0121 766 8087 or email your account manager.
Google recently asked Neilson Group to study the behaviour of people using mobiles to purchase. You can find the full report here but the main points to take away are these.
People are spending more than 15 hours a week researching potential purchases on their phones with their main method of discovering information being search engines, primarily of course, Google. The research showed that being local is the key with users wanting businesses to be within 5 miles. They also want to make their decision and purchase within an hour.
This is a clear sign that local businesses need to concentrate their attention on mobile users. Responsive design that caters to tablets and phone is no longer the purview of large national businesses. The most important driver in getting a user to your site and to make a purchase is making sure their experience is smooth and engaging. If your website can provide that optimum user experience on a mobile phone you will be well on your way to being ahead of the competition.
If you need help getting your website mobile ready call eSterling on 0121 766 8087.
Major retailers have made the transition to support mobile devices and there is a growing necessity for smaller brands and businesses to follow suit. In the last week of December John Lewis saw 75% of the traffic to their online shop being made up of tablets and mobile phones. Shoe retailer Schuh found that nearly 70% of traffic came from mobile devices over the same period.
The facts are simple. If you have a website it has to cater to users accessing the site through a tablet or mobile phone. If you don’t you will be loosing business. A website that doesn’t display correctly, is slow, has a Flash intro, or is inconvenient to navigate will dissuade users. Those users will go to a competitor due to the frustrations of trying to use your website. If you sell online then then you practically speaking have little choice but to upgrade the design of your website or face the inevitable decline in sales.
Your first new year’s resolution should be to get a refresh of your site to make it responsive and work across all devices. Why not give eSterling a call and let us see what we can do to increase the sales through your website.
Anyone who pays any attention whatsoever to the world of web design will by now be very familiar with mobile sites and the concept of responsive design (and if you aren’t, you can read more here).
Well, now there’s another reason to perfect your mobile presence – Google have now decided to take the smartphone-friendliness of a website into consideration when determining where a site ranks in its SERPS – meaning if your site can’t strut it’s stuff on the small screen, you could be losing even more traffic than before.
Google have announced in a recent blog post that they are planning to roll out algorithm updates that will penalise websites that are incorrectly configured for mobile browsing.
Here are a few of the most common errors made in mobile sites, and our advice for avoiding them:
Correct Your Redirect
A common strategy for providing a mobile site alongside your desktop website is to use different URLs to serve different pages. This tactic can work very well, as it allows you to lay out the content on your pages in a different format that is better suited for smaller screens and touch-based interaction. However, these redirects must be handled correctly in order to provide a consistent experience for the user with minimal frustration.
A mistake that often crops up with this sort of configuration is directing smartphone users to a set page (most often the home page), no matter which desktop page they are trying to access – requiring extra work from the user in order to navigate back to the page they originally attempted to visit in the first place! Naturally, this can be a source of annoyance for the user, and can result in them leaving your site in search of something less tedious to find their way around.
The solution for this issue is simple – make sure each page redirects to its own respective mobile-friendly page. If the content is not available in mobile form, then directing the user to the home page or other related page is preferable to serving a 404 page – but still not really ideal.
The difficulty that mobile platforms have with video content is well documented, and a topic for lengthy discussion in its own right. However, if you’re serving unplayable video content to your mobile users, pretty soon you can expect to see a drop in your search rankings.
The solution for this problem is (perhaps unsurprisingly) to avoid Flash content on mobile sites in general, as it is unsupported in iOS and Android version 4.1 and higher. To include video content, it is possible to use the new HTML5 markup
<video> tag, which should work without a hitch on all mobile platforms.
If you also provide a mobile app, it would seem only logical to promote this app to users browsing on a mobile device – and this can seem like a perfectly user-friendly move too, as your app may provide a better interface for your users to interact with similar content. However, advertising your app through interstitials or other methods which disrupt the conventional user experience of your site will soon start to have a negative impact on your site’s rankings, as well as annoying your users.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t try to entice mobile users with your shiny new app – as long as it is done tastefully. Google recommends using a “simple banner” displayed inline, alongside the rest of your website’s content. This can mean either a standard HTML image banner or utilising the support offered by the device’s native browser and operating system – for example Smart App Banners for Safari on iOS6.
More Speed, Less Haste
On top of these new rules concerning content, Google’s head of search spam Matt Cutts has alluded to a site speed penalty for mobile sites, similar to the penalty imposed on slow loading desktop sites. Whilst not much information has been disclosed at the minute, it’s fairly safe to assume that as mobile users are often connected to the internet via low-speed cellular connections, the load time that must be achieved will probably be significantly faster than in the desktop speed test.
As is usually the case with Google’s algorithm updates, these new guidelines will help to make the web a better place – both for webmasters and users themselves. Here at eSterling, we welcome them with open arms, and look forward to the mobile web becoming more user-centric and streamlined.
If you’d like to read more on the issues which may cause your mobile site to lose rankings, Google has helpfully compiled a list of common mistakes in smartphone sites to help you out.
As always, if there’s anything in this post which you wish to discuss or would like some more information on, please leave us a message in the comments or email us here.