Google has at last rolled out a “mobile first” algorithm that favors smart phone users over desktop audiences. This may be the most revolutionary update since Hummingbird, and the transition will come with some exciting features that will enhance user experience, changing the way you think about SEO and digital marketing.
Understanding the Mechanics
Artificial intelligence has become so unnervingly advanced that Siri and Cortana have their own fan clubs. Google needed to get up to speed with a task far more complex: developing a bot that surfed the web precisely like human mobile users do. This required building blocks more sophisticated than Siri’s, but Google has made significant strides with its mobile-first update. Sites that aren’t mobile-friendly or responsive may lose their rank. To retain your digital footprint, your site must:
- Exclude software and code that’s uncommon on smartphones
- Be readable without the help of a zoom tool
- Have links that are spaced in a way that makes tapping easy
- Make horizontal scrolling unnecessary
- Have mobile-friendly, e-commerce tools
Responsive design is the only rational way forward if you’re creating a new site. It’s more economical than developing a mobile version that will need to be upgraded in a year or two. This way, you’ll keep all users comfortable on all devices while simultaneously appealing to the new algorithm. If your existing site has both desktop and mobile-friendly versions, Google will let you keep your rank for now, but you’ll likely have to shift to a responsive design eventually.
Those Dreaded Penalties
Google’s Sundar Pichai says the route of growth will ultimately lead to an AI-first algorithm, but for the moment, adapting to the mobile-first update is relatively straightforward. Sites won’t be penalized for their lack of mobile-readiness. Instead, those that provide the most seamless responsive design will be ranked ahead of others. Prepare by:
- Removing large images to meet the two-second page-loading threshold. This is expected to drop to 0.05 seconds.
- Deleting all unnecessary code and characters
- Using browser cache services to avoid local storage
- Removing unnecessary redirects that cause reloading
- Using expandable content; Google has begun indexing this kind of design again, so it’s back in the game
Your digital marketing campaign should be in a constant state of evolution, especially following a major search engine algorithm change. Analytics stopped being optional many years ago. Your marketing campaign cannot succeed long-term without them. Your performance metrics should include the number of:
- Unique visitors and visits your site receives each month
- Sales it generates
- Indexed pages
- Monthly conversions, including form submissions and leads
SEO and E-Commerce
Google is still testing the Mobile First algorithm, but having a mobile e-commerce site certainly, won’t lead to losses. Half of Black Friday and Thanksgiving sales were made through mobile in 2016, so brand leaders are designing e-commerce platforms to cater to this rapidly-growing segment. Hummingbird ranked you better if you used subdomains and subdirectories that didn’t force redirects. Responsive design followed, but that’s already shifted into a more advanced, adaptive strategy. You’ll gain more traffic by creating a dynamic site that displays differently on each device without using separate URLs.
Content on Mobile First
SEO in digital marketing will always be central to rank. In fact, by 2019, content marketing is expected to be a $300 billion industry, with SEO representing an extra $80 billion. Google is getting better at identifying which content readers enjoy best, so quality copy is no longer optional.
Google’s new artificial intelligence is dazzling. Soon, Chrome and Google will unify, making the search page a turbo-powered version of its former self. You will no longer simply use Google to find websites, but to plan, book, and buy too. Seth Godin famously said that your business can only succeed by being remarkable. It’s time to build your share of the market through a larger digital footprint. It’s time to evolve, and to do so, your site must be responsive.