News

Google Starts Shift to Mobile-First Indexing

by Auroriele Hans November 14th, 2016

We’ve known for a while now that more people search on mobile devices than on desktop computers. Always prioritizing user experience, Google has responded with the mobile-friendly algorithm, the expansion of Accelerated Mobile Pages, and now with a shift to primarily index mobile pages. The company announced last week that it has begun experimenting on a small scale a mobile-first index and will fully implement this method in the coming months if it proves to provide users with a better online experience.

What Does This Change Mean for Your Website?

In the near future, Google’s algorithms will mainly evaluate the mobile version of your website to rank its pages, interpret structured data, and select rich snippets to show in the search engine results pages. Failure to have a mobile-friendly website could have an unfavorable impact on your website even when it’s viewed from desktop computers. Google will still index your site, but it may not rank as favorably as mobile-friendly sites.

How Can You Prepare for a Mobile-Focused Index?

Ideally, you’ll want to have a responsive or dynamic serving website in which the main content and markup is consistent across mobile and desktop. If your website is configured so that primary content and markup varies from desktop to mobile, use the following checklist to make changes:

  • Align the structured markup for the desktop and mobile versions of your website.
  • Use the Structured Data Testing Tool to ensure your structured markup is consistent across the mobile and desktop versions of your website.
  • Make sure the structured data on your mobile site isn’t superfluous or irrelevant to the content of each page.
  • Check that Googlebot can access your mobile site with the txt testing tool.
  • Verify the mobile and desktop versions of your website in the Search Console.
  • Don’t rush to build a mobile site if it will compromise quality. Only launch a mobile site that you’re confident will satisfy users’ needs.

A Mobile Future

Mobile is clearly the direction the public is heading in the use of online services. More than 65 percent of Americans own a smartphone, and these devices are their primary means of searching the Internet. Google is committed to accommodating users’ mobile needs—and doing the same could help the continued success of your website.

To read Google’s official announcement, click here.

google mobile experience

Google Introducing Two Changes to Improve Mobile User Experience

by Auroriele Hans September 8th, 2016

Cluttered webpages and popup ads are irritating enough on a desktop, but they can be exasperating on a smartphone when you may have limited time to read a piece of content. Always striving to improve user experience, Google recently announced two changes to remove distractions from mobile search results and barriers to content on mobile pages. Both could have implications for your mobile website. 1

1. Google Says Goodbye to Mobile-Friendly Label

google-mobile-friendly-tag

If you’ve done the work to provide smartphone and tablet users with an easy-to-navigate website, then you probably noticed a mobile-friendly label under your URL in the SERPs. Since implementing the mobile-friendly algorithm in April 2015, Google has seen widespread compliance with its mobile-friendly criteria, and the label now appears next to 85% of sites.

In an effort to streamline the search results page, or more likely to make way for the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) icon, Google will no longer show the “mobile-friendly” label. Mobile-friendliness will, however, still be a ranking signal. If you haven’t done so yet, make sure your site meets the following guidelines:

  • Customize content to fit smaller screens to prevent users from having to scroll horizontally or zoom.
  • Ensure links are far enough apart so as to be conveniently tapped.
  • Choose text that will be readable without having to zoom.
  • Use software that is compatible with mobile devices. 2

You can utilize the mobile-friendly tool and mobile usability report to make sure your pages meet Google’s mobile-friendly design requirements and to spot any potential issues affecting your website.

2. Google Will Crack Down on Popups

google-mobile-pop-ups

When a user clicks on a link in the SERPs, his or her intent is to see the content described in the title and meta description, not a popup ad or intrusive interstitial, as Google calls them. Such obstacles can be frustrating, especially when they completely block content on a smartphone. After January 10, 2017, a new signal in search may make pages with four types of intrusive interstitials less accessible in the mobile SERPs:

  • Popup ads that prevent users from viewing the page after navigating to it from search or while reading it.
  • Standalone interstitials that require user action before the page can be displayed.
  • Formatting the above-the-fold part of the page to resemble a standalone interstitial and placing the content beneath the fold.
  • Interstitials asking users to install mobile apps (these were formally checked under the mobile-friendly test but will now be part of the new signal).

The new signal won’t affect some types of interstitials and elements, as long as they are not used negligently.

  • Legal notifications, such as agreements to cookie usage or age verifications.
  • Login requests for email accounts, paywall-protected content, and other forms of private content.
  • Banners that do not occupy an unreasonably distracting amount of screen space.

Prioritize Mobile User Experience

As with the recent mobile-friendly algorithm update and announcement of the planned application of AMP to all mobile search results, these two changes reflect Google’s commitment to optimizing the mobile user experience. Considering that poor user experience can lead to high bounce and low conversion rates, poor organic rankings, and negative associations with a brand, the search giant’s objective is certainly one worth incorporating into your own digital marketing strategy. 3

Additional Sources:

1 – https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2016/08/helping-users-easily-access-content-on.html
2 – https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2014/11/helping-users-find-mobile-friendly-pages.html
3 – http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/32307/15-Things-People-Absolutely-Hate-About-Your-Website.aspx#sm.00001hoiq1vw76dbhtuuyvmlod7cx

Google to Expand AMP Across All Mobile Search

by Jon Heinl August 5th, 2016

Mobile content consumption eclipsed desktop over a year ago, and Google has acted swiftly to accommodate user expectations, first with the mobile-friendly algorithm in April 2015 and then last spring with the launch of the Accelerated Mobile Pages Project. A collaborative effort between Google, publishers, advertisers, and tech companies, the open source initiative promises to improve the mobile web experience with lightweight, lightening fast pages. Since initially being applied only to the “Top stories” news carousel, websites from travel to entertainment have adopted AMP, and now Google plans to expand support for it across the entire mobile search results sometime this year.

Curious webmasters and website owners can get a glimpse of just what this “AMPed up” future could look like by navigating to g.co/ampdemo via their mobile devices and searching for news stories, recipes, or song lyrics. 1

Accelerated Mobile Pages: Quick and Efficient

Time is money—and so is data. In fact, 40 percent of online customers will abandon a retail or travel website if the page fails to load within three seconds. 2 AMP have the potential to offer users a quicker mobile browsing experience: not only do pages rich with graphics, videos, and animations load four times faster, but they also use ten times less data than pages lacking AMP HTML, the open framework behind the technology that can be accessed at GitHub. 3

Why You Should Consider AMP

As is usually the case with Google, the goal of Accelerated Mobile Pages is improving the search and online experience for users—this time through speedier page load times. The company is so serious about the project that it has already indexed more than 150 million AMP documents and is adding over 4 million new ones by the week. Many of these pages are the properties of Twitter, Pinterest, WordPress.com, LinkedIn, and other major players who were quick to participate in the project.

google-amp-pages

What’s good for users is often beneficial for websites and their owners, and there are several reasons businesses would want to consider “AMPing up” their content:

  • A lighting bolt logo will appear next to sites with Accelerated Mobile Pages, helping them stand out in the mobile SERPs and potentially boosting click-through rates as users opt for a faster mobile experience.
  • Faster page load times could equate to lower bounce rates and higher conversions, which could drop by seven percent with even a one-second-page response delay. 4
  • AMP isn’t a ranking factor yet, but, considering the emphasis Google places on site speed, it could very well be soon.

Head of Google News Richard Gingras said the object of the AMP project is to make the web “fast and furiously compelling.” Who wouldn’t want this for their website and content too? 5

Before You Jump on AMP

  • Weigh the potential benefits against the mobile-friendly version of your website.
  • Consider the drawbacks and cost to create an AMP version of your pages. For example, since AMP HTML is fairly new, there are still page elements that will not work with the format.

Additional Sources:

1 – https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2016/08/amp-your-content-preview-of-amped.html
2 – https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/articles/speed-is-key-optimize-your-mobile-experience.html
3 – https://googleblog.blogspot.com/2015/10/introducing-accelerated-mobile-pages.html
4 – https://blog.kissmetrics.com/loading-time/
5 – https://www.ampproject.org/

Mobile-Friendly Websites to Enjoy Rankings Boost

by Auroriele Hans May 30th, 2016

“Mobilegeddon”—spring 2015’s buzzword in the world of SEO and even mainstream news—made headlines again after Google’s latest mobile-friendly algorithm update was confirmed by the company last March. 1

Much of the ominous hype surrounding the initial roll out of the mobile-friendly algorithm in April 2015 was due to the fact that it would impact rankings for webpages: those “with large text, easily clickable links, and optimized sizes that fit the smaller screen of a smartphone” would be promoted in the mobile SERPs and those that were not would suffer demotion, which is essentially what happened.

Thanks to the May 2016 update, websites that have recently converted to a mobile-friendly format may enjoy a rankings boost as they climb above desktop stalwarts.

Why Go Mobile Friendly?

The initial mobile-friendly algorithm update and this latest one are not simply arbitrary measures by Google to make the coveted page one rankings on smartphone searches even more seemingly unattainable. Far from it—as with many of Google’s algorithmic changes, this one reflects the company’s commitment to accommodating user behavior and preferences.

With mobile searches eclipsing desktop for some time now, it makes sense that Google would strive to deliver the best user experience on smartphones by returning pages optimized for them before ones that aren’t—ones that leave users frustrated.

It’s Never Too Late to Change

As long as searchers prefer to find the nearest pizza parlor or shoe repair shop via their smartphones, Google will likely continue to cater to them by improving its mobile-friendly algorithm update.

If you haven’t already, it’s not too late to make your website mobile-friendly and reap the ranking benefits, especially since the algorithm update is being implemented in real time—it’s just a matter of how quickly Google crawls your pages.

Google even offers resources to make the change, including mobile guidelines and a mobile friendly tool to check how your site fairs.

Digital marketers must balance the demands of search engines and users to be successful, and in this case, making your site mobile-friendly could just please both.

Additional Sources:

1- https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2016/03/continuing-to-make-web-more-mobile.html

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