What started with a Google announcement of a possible algorithmic update on mobile-first indexing in 2016 has developed into a roll-out of the experiment in 2017. They claim that to begin with, the effects of gradual roll-out on a small number of users will be almost negligible. Google promise to only “ ramp up” the changes if they reflect a “greater user experience”. This algorithm addition is testament to the growing number of mobile phone users and the correspondingly high increase in mobile internet use. When users search the internet for particular information on websites their behaviour indicates a growing trend towards mobile search. In reaction, Google appear to be emphasising the need for improved mobile user experience. In this algorithm they are laying the groundwork for the technical adjustments necessary to attain that optimal user experience. Designers, Webmasters and SEOs are being put on notice as regards the type of changes required to make all websites compliant. The expected knee jerk response might well reflect the fearful reaction of these same people to the imagined Mobile Armageddon scenario in the aftermath of the 2015 Mobile friendly ranking algorithm. The growing future impact of Mobile search upon SERPS is concentrating the minds of both Google and Webmasters. Both SEO engineers and Designers are thankful more than fearful of the advice coming from Google search experts regarding further improvement in user experience and rankings in the search pages. From a technical perspective, algorithm changes in search and rankings beg the question – how can web Developers, SEOs and Designers prepare for the expected changes and guidelines laid down by Google search?
One of the questions raised by the algorithm roll-out, according to Gary Illyes of Google, is the anomaly of websites on desk top versions having more links pointing to them than to the mobile version. Whilst working to deal with this issue, Google have warned Website owners that condensed content on their Mobile pages might affect rank. This says quite strongly that the latter may well experience some type of penalty, probably in a negative ranking context, if they do not make efforts to reinforce their material. Gary Illyes has also indicated on a technical level, that Rel=Canonical Tags may start to operate the same task performed by Rel=Alternate Tags, so embedded is this software. In reference to all of this, Google is providing advice to Website owners in advance of the roll-out of the Mobile-first index algorithm. It is basically advising them how to provide “compelling mobile experiences” in compliance with the search and ranking algorithm demands. In plain language, now is the time to optimise for both website versions in order to keep up with current user trends. The reality in search indicates that there are discernible behavioural trends showing that not only should you optimise for mobile target audience engagement but also for desktop versions. Internet user patterns suggest that they are shifting from one device to the other depending on information requirements. If this user model is to be the future in search, then website owners need to recognise the moments when users change from one to the other to strengthen SEO on both platforms in appropriate ways.
What can you do to comply with Google’s Mobile first Index algorithm?
Primarily you need to pinpoint the moments when each device ( Desk top or Mobile) is used for visitors accessing your business website. Consequently, it is essential that you optimise content for those particular moments and also optimise your website for the particular device.
Your goal as a goods or service provider is to first attract visitors to your website, then engage them sufficiently with interesting and informative content and finally convert them to the desired action through an irresistible service or product offer. You have to remember that you will only reach the desired outcome by complying fully with Google’s algorithms which are designed to enable you to climb the rankings in the SERPS. By become more visible on the Internet you more open and available to potential visitors.
In practical terms you have to be constantly aware of the need to ensure mobile-friendliness with the implementation of AMP or responsive design.
With the recognised user shift between both desktop and mobile versions it is imperative that you optimise for both to ensure equal performance.
Mobile content should be beefed up accordingly, considering how much content is recorded by Google’s Mobile-first index.
To increase ROI ( Return on Investment), user impact signals and call to action triggers need to be tracked and analysed so adjustments can be effected to produce the required positive user outcomes.
There is undoubtedly a growing awareness that Google is concentrating on the importance of mobile in their continuing journey towards providing optimal user experience across all platforms.