It all started on Thursday 26th February 2015, with this announcement from Google:
“When it comes to search on mobile devices, users should get the most relevant and timely results, no matter if the information lives on mobile-friendly web pages or apps. As more people use mobile devices to access the internet, our algorithms have to adapt to these usage patterns.”
Since this day, Google’s announcement has generated a considerable amount of conversation in the digital world around the globe. As the mobile index gradually rolls out, it will eventually become the primary index, completely replacing the desktop version that many businesses are reliant on.
The number of online mobile users continues to grow exponentially; anyone who is au fait with Analytics knows it. When the total searches performed on mobile overtook the total searches performed on desktop around mid-2015, it was time for a mobile-first index.
The goal of this update from Google is to give these users the best possible experience, with full and complete access to the sites they want to see instead of the pared down and often forgotten about mobile versions we see today.
What If I’m Not Mobile Friendly?
If you do not offer a mobile friendly version of your site, it would be fair to say that you are probably already losing out on increased rankings, conversions and traffic. In this day and age, it is not just sensible to have a mobile responsive website, regardless of the update, it's a necessity.
There are a few things you need to take into consideration if you are looking at making improvements ahead of the mobile first update:
Google has previously quoted that any e-Commerce website that takes over two seconds to load is below the threshold for acceptability.
Google and its visitors have grown to expect a website to load quickly. Otherwise you are at risk of a high bounce rate. How does your site score?
It is really important to optimise your site with speed in mind. This means, utilising images that are high quality without a huge file size; utilising browser caching to your benefit; minifying and compressing coding to speed up server response times and ensuring your site isn't overloaded with redirects, to name but a few resolutions.
If your site is loading faster, not only with users find it easier to interact with on the smart phones, but you might just see your metrics shoot up, too.
As much as SEO is a technical skill, it is also an art, to some extent. SEO is so much more than just signals and ranking codes; web design has the power to influence rankings, success and conversion considerably, too. This is why so much weight is given to conversion rate optimisation in web design.
Mobile design may be one of the newest forms of web design but it is one of the most important, too. It might sound dramatic, but if your mobile site is not up to scratch when this update lands, you might just have to wave goodbye to your rankings, visibility, traffic and online presence.
One of the biggest tips our designers could give for future proofing your website is to use the latest design software such as HTML5 and avoid Flash at all costs - a lot of phones don't have Flash capabilities so your site will never look as good as you want it to.
If you are currently using pop ups on your site, now is the time to consider just how beneficial they are for you. For a mobile user, pop ups can be frustrating and even lead to an increase bounce rate which is never going to bode well for rankings and conversions.
Finally, keep in mind that when you are designing a mobile friendly site, you are no longer designing for a mouse to click, it’s all about the finger-friendly calls to action, buttons and links. We all know how annoying accidental taps are and navigating with a finger rather than a mouse means that these need to be avoided more than ever.
Much like Panda before, Google’s mobile index is putting a huge emphasis on high-quality content in relation to what mobile users see compared to what desktop users see. Google quoted that ‘if your site configuration is set so that the primary content and markup is different across mobile and desktop, you should consider making some changes to your site.’
This means that the content on each of your pages should be available on the mobile version of the site - this will help with future search engine optimisation as well as in preparation for the update. Dynamically served mobile websites should always redirect; it is important to try and avoid sending all mobile users to a single page.
So, what is your next step?
In the run up to potentially one of the biggest updates from Google in a long time, it is important to identify the needs of your mobile users and ensure you are giving them what they need on a mobile platform, as well as on desktop.
Need some help with this? We are always on hand so feel free to give our team a call today.