Mobile Comes First

Google is in the process of a subtle but far reaching change to its indexing process: once it’s enacted, Google will be crawling mobile websites to create its index, not desktop sites.

Let’s break this down and look at the implications.

How Do Things Work Right Now?

At the moment, Google uses bots to crawl your website and establish an index of links for search results using terms related to your site. The bots browse your website like a human would, following links and scanning pages for content, and they use the desktop version of the site.

Important factors in getting a good SERP result include ensuring all your pages link together: there are no orphaned pages that don’t connect to the rest of your site, and referrals from other site. The more sites that link to yours, the higher Google rates your own site, so disseminating your brand online is a key priority for all businesses.

This all brings traffic to your site, which, presuming you have a good offer for your customers, will result in rising revenue.

Mobile First

Google has noticed that more and more searches are being performed on mobile devices: in 2015 it announced that the majority of searches are made on mobile in ten key, developed countries including Japan and the US.

As a result, Google’s bots will be crawling mobile sites in the future to establish a search index, optimising their results for mobile users ahead of desktop users, as they have identified them as their biggest, most important user base.

Optimising your site for Google’s new priority means taking a deep look into your mobile site: ensuring it doesn’t orphan any pages from your desktop site, leaving them inaccessible to Google’s bots. This could mean whole product lines could fail to appear to customers searching for them, because your mobile site is a secondary concern to its desktop iteration.

Google also penalise mobile sites for featuring screen filling pop-ups that interrupt the user experience. Many sites use these to, for example, encourage customers to sign up to a newsletter. It’s going to be increasingly important to redesign these interstitials to be less obtrusive, or to only trigger when a user is browsing your site, as Google only monitors intersitials that appear directly after a browser clicks through from their results.

Speed is Key

With increasing numbers of browsers on mobile, site loading speed is set to become one of the most important ways to improve your site. Studies have shown it takes as little as three seconds for customers to abandon a mobile site if it’s not quick to load. There are various ways to improve this, from simply checking to ensure your image files are optimised and compressed correctly for quick loading to doing a deep dive into your site’s code to look for roadblocks and ensure your JavaScript files are lean and efficient.

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