We’re now entering our fourth consecutive year of mobile traffic dominating more than half of all web browsing and global web user access. Tablets are also increasing their share at the expense of desktop browsing. As of 2017, almost 80% of all social media usage now takes place on mobile devices. Mobile first isn’t a new notion and most marketers have been promoting this for some time. Despite this, a specific focus on mobile based search isn’t always as high as it should be on every brand’s list of digital considerations.
One of the reasons mobile search has been given a unique emphasis is that Google and other search engines began to recognise the rising mobile trend. Way back in 2013, they started to place more emphasis on the quality of the mobile version of a given site. At the time, many businesses and indeed the industry as a whole were struggling with decision making. They didn’t know what to do with regards to their websites as developers introduced mobile specific sites, adaptive sites and responsive designs. Fast forward to today and the general consensus is a single desktop and mobile friendly responsive site, which is also multi-device tested, is the way to go.
What does this mean for your site?
Regardless of how you’ve approached this until now, Google and other engines have been creating separate desktop and mobile indexes. Results are based on the respective version of the site, based on the device a user is searching from. But this is all about to change. Google has already announced a shift to ‘mobile-first indexing’ is now underway, meaning its search results will be primarily based on the mobile version of your site rather than the traditional desktop version.
Any business or web master not taking mobile first seriously enough to consider how it factors into their SEO strategy is going to find themselves losing out as 2018 progresses.
You should be giving priority consideration to the following areas as part of your mobile SEO strategy:
Simple site structure – We all know that the experience of web browsing via a mobile device is very different to that of desktop. For a mobile experience to work well, careful consideration must be given to the amount and structure of content on any given page. Keeping the site navigation simple and easy to use is also key.
Mobile experiences need to be slick and user journeys should be mapped out to be as concise as possible. Breaking down your main navigation structure will play a big part in this.
Load time – Yes, this is partly down to user experience but it is an issue that requires additional consideration for mobile. Mobile web browsing speeds and network quality are improving and most nations now boast a pretty strong free public Wi-Fi infrastructure but that’s no excuse to skip on load time optimisation.
Not all mobile devices have the latest processors and there will still be plenty of mobile network connections which don’t run as fast as Wi-Fi does. Keep content high quality but compress image size and use video wisely. Also, don’t forget that load time should be audited on a page-by-page basis and you shouldn’t settle for a site average.
Responsive design first – Universally a well built responsive design website is your best bet, the method is directly endorsed by Google and should render your content perfectly across a huge range of devices. This also simplifies the design process and immediately puts you in a mobile first mindset to approach your search strategy as you effectively have one site with a single version to maintain and optimise.
Mobile SEO is, in many cases, a common sense, practical approach to all the foundations of SEO but with mobile considerations at the forefront. It doesn’t have to be a significant issue, but it will become one if you are not prepared and aren’t taking adequate steps to ensure you’re meeting the new requirements. If you haven’t considered this yet, you’re already behind.
If you need help with adopting a mobile-first mind-set, contact our experienced team to discuss how Adrac can assist.