As Neil Patel pointed out on Search Engine Land, “Google considers mobile to be so significant that they are working to dominate nearly all of it’s manifestations.” Android is the world’s largest mobile platform provider, Google is the world’s largest search provider and has the largest mobile app store. For marketers, the mobile phone number is becoming the new unique identifier rather than an IP address or cookie.
We will begin to use information from indexed apps as a factor in ranking for signed-in users who have the app installed. As a result, we may now surface content from indexed apps more prominently in search.
— Google Webmaster Central
Many industry insiders believe, based on recent interviews at SMX West and other industry conferences, that Google has built a new mobile crawler to do a better job indexing web apps, Android apps and possibly deep link in iOS apps. A mobile only index to house all of this content that is not necessarily relevant for desktop search would make sense- though it is not confirmed. We do know that Google has already introduced app indexing as a feature of the new algorithm specific to sites that have associated Android apps.
So what does this mean for business owners who are worried about their website rankings?
#1 — Think Mobile
If you don’t already have a responsive design site or mobile subdomain (m.site.com), it is time to make it a priority.
Google’s mobile friendly test for webmasters is far from perfect – something Google has readily admitted, though it can be used to gauge a site’s current mobile performance.
Another method of checking your site is to search for it on your mobile device. If the search result entry shows “mobile-friendly” in light grey, the site is in Google’s good graces.
Keep in mind that a mobile site doesn’t need to be an exact replica of your desktop site. If fact, it’s should because users engage with a desktop very differently than a mobile device. You can take liberties by reducing down the content, brand messaging and navigation to help with performance. At Counterspace, we look to reduce down a site’s content for a quality mobile user experience without losing the design for the best possible user experience.
#2 — Optimize User Experience
Passing the two rudimentary checks listed above means you’re site will remain in consideration for ranking within the mobile search results post April 21st. However, your mobile user experience will likely need to be updated in order to remain current with Google’s guidelines.
Users should not have to pinch zoom in order to easily & reliably press the desired button or link.
— Google Developer Guide
- Size tap targets appropriately
- Important tap targets should be at least 48 pixels wide by 48 pixels tall
- Less frequented links may be smaller but should be sufficiently spaced to allow navigation without pinch zoom or accidently triggering a nearby link
- Configure the viewport for mobile
- A responsive viewport to detect device width can be used
- Fixed width settings for mobile are not recommended
#3 — Improve Page Speed
As searchers, especially mobile searchers, we look to the web for answers – and we expect them quickly. Sites are given mere seconds to load before a potential customer bails to go check out the competitor site
The first step, as with anything, is research. To get started, we recommend utilizing the resources Google has made available to be proactive in understanding where your site stands with search and ranking standards. After you are armed with results and are ready to adapt your site to ensure a positive ranking, or if you would like some assistance with testing your site’s mobile friendliness, give us a call!