As we wrap up 2018 and head into 2019, what is the best way to make your business digitally competitive and drive growth?
From an organic perspective, this question is inevitably traced back to Google, which commands the lion’s share of internet searches. The company stated last year that 2018 will be the year that it rolls out a “mobile-first” index, and it has done.
In 2018, 52% of webpages were served to mobile devices which is up from 50% in 2017.
To keep it simple, with more searches now done on mobile devices rather than desktop ones, the mobile version of your website will be given more and more priority by the search engines.
Brands that want to drive sales growth through organic lead generation need to put mobile SEO at the top of their digital to-do list.
In Google’s own words, mobile-first indexing will “use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site, to understand structured data, and to show snippets from those pages in our results.”
How Has Mobile SEO Evolved So Far
The internet is a vast landscape with users spread wide and far.
Not everyone’s connection is fast, but most people do have access to a mobile device.
Google and other search engine companies have been pushing for sites that load faster, even on slow connections. This forms the essence of how things have changed over the past year.
Also note that optimising your site for desktop and mobile entails a few variations based on the guidelines set forth by Google for each.
For example, local results are more likely in mobile, so things like Google Places listings might appear higher in mobile SERPs than they would in desktop, along with domains that are more aligned with the user's local search intent.
From an increased focus on user experience, to optimising the actual code of a site itself, mobile SEO has evolved rapidly.
This was reinforced at Google’s Mobile Sites Certification Bootcamp in December 2017 where experts talked about how to achieve better rankings in the mobile index and drive business growth.
CBO’s team not only added the “Mobile Sites Certified” badge to their ever-growing profile, but have actively begun implementing the learnings for clients. The key ones are as follows.
Structured site Data
In June 2011, Google, Yahoo! and Bing collaborated to create a common set of HTML markup vocabulary that can help search engine spiders better understand the content, meaning and context of a site.
Schema or structured data is beginning to play an increased role in boosting organic ranking in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), as well as being one of the important ranking factors, even from a mobile perspective.
A popular website Search Engine Land revealed that a spokesperson from Google had confirmed algorithmic changes that impacted SERPs, even during the busy holiday season.
Most of the websites impacted had two areas in common, lack of Schema and mobile optimisation. As per Google’s own definition provided above, both are inter-related and will play a key role in mobile SEO across 2018.
If you want your website to rank better on mobile SERPs, and enjoy enhanced visibility in search engine results, be sure to implement structured data across your website.
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), and Optimal User Experience
Spearheaded by Google, the AMP Project is “an open-source initiative which enables the creation of websites that are consistently fast, engaging and high-performing across devices and distribution platforms.”
AMPs have pretty much become the standard for fast-loading mobile pages and what a website should include from a mobile angle.
They load much faster than standard pages, but maintain the functionality as well. Think of it as an HTML page that has been purpose-built to be pre-rendered and deliver faster experience on mobile devices.
In addition to specialised code, the actual experience itself should be optimal from a user perspective. In a nutshell, it should deliver the information they are looking for, and do it faster across all devices.
However, recent analysis shows that AMP pages can have a negative impact on conversions rates - a claim of a 70% of a drop from Rockstar Coders underpins the need to test every change you make to ensure it has a positive impact on your business.
Progressive Web Apps (PWA)
Think of PWAs as webpages that can also appear as native mobile applications on user devices.
The purpose behind these are to combine the features of modern web browsers with mobile experience.
Once developed, a PWA can pretty much be opened from the user’s mobile device by tapping the icon just like a native mobile app. The difference, however, is that they can load much faster and reliably even with instable networks.
The purpose behind a Progressive Web App is to prevent users from bouncing off to another website due to a poor loading experience. For businesses, these will go on to become the mobile SEO weapon of choice in 2018.
With so much to gain from users searching for products or services on mobile devices, now is the time to get ready and deliver faster experiences and engage customers. Get in touch if you want to talk about your mobile SEO ambitions.