Google's Mobile-First Index: Are You Prepared?!
Managing Director of Erudite, Nichola Stott spoke at the September 2017 Digital Gaggle conference about the impending mobile-pocalypse. Turns out there's a ton of stuff marketers should be doing in order to prepare for Google's Mobile-First Index and you'll find all of those recommendations summarised in this blogpost...
Even without the mobile-first index, AMP and Facebook’s speed prioritisation shows mobile supremacy is not new. Stats about mobile usage overtaking desktop in talks about digital marketing are as commonplace as gratuitous scissor cutting during a Blue Peter Christmas special. Even Google’s move towards treating mobile devices as the primary means of interacting with the internet has been perpetually juuuust around the corner for oooh, nearly a year now. Anyone who is only just now showing up to a talk about preparing for the transition probably deserves a good bollocking.
When is the mobile-first index actually coming?
- Official answer: when it’s ready.
- Educated guess: end of Q2 2018.
What do I need to worry about?
- In-SERP Answers
Voice search stats are rapidly becoming the new mobile search stats. The current(ish) numbers? 20% of all searches from within the Google App are Voice searches. The “within the Google App” part is a bit of a caveat but given the later talks from this event, specifically Craig and Andy's, there are enough shadowy corporate interests that are determined to make Voice a thing to assume it probably will be.
There’s also an increasing tendency towards “x near me” searches (which are 80% mobile driven). These stats are interesting because they reveal that the average user is gaining an expectation that search engines will be using implicit search signals (and more terrifying, that they expect their location to be tracked.) More than this though, these ROPO (Research Online Purchase Offline) queries rely on Google understanding your website properly and understanding the way more conversational search queries will interact with keyword optimised content.
Answers In SERP
Nicely tied into Voice, Google’s desire to answer your question directly in the SERPs (and if you searched via Voice; read it back to you) is very interesting. As Google improves its capabilities for semantic search and entity recognition, not only are conversational searches increasingly plausible, judicious use of semantic markup becomes more and more important. Also important: writing your content specifically to covet that position 0 answerbox.
As Nichola pointed out – you need to use structured data to explain to Google what’s going on, because no-one is going to be seeing your page anymore. I wonder though, once that’s the case - what’s the point?
Speed has always been important. Now it’s even more important. Personally, I think the way Facebook are going with things: aggressively filtering content based on not only pagespeed – but client’s connection speed too – is the future. Nichola has a very straightforward approach to this challenge which bleeds into the next section: don’t add all those images and content in the first place. I love it! A nice lean design with no bloat will set you up for success. After that, look into:
Nichola's slide highlighting the importance of speed by comparing it to abandonment rate.
I love Nichola’s approach to mobile design & design in general. Design with purpose.
- The ‘above the fold’ section of every page should be intentional and curated
- Keep all the functional controls in one place – don’t scatter them everywhere
- Have a proper Heading that properly describes the page
- Get straight to the meat, but don’t forget to have the next piece of content ‘peeking in’ at the bottom of the page.
Measurement & Tools
Nichola acknowledges that this is vitally important but deferred explaining it to Jon’s talk which you can read about here.
- Semantics are becoming more important when optimising for specific keywords, so useful well written content that answers questions > slavish keyword optimisation.
- Use structured data markup on everything you physically can.
- Get used to the idea of your information being used by Google to answer a query, without actually serving your page.
- Take every technological advantage you can to deliver a fast site.
- Design with purpose.
- Measure & improve.
Thanks to Nichola for an insightful and brilliant talk!
Has Nichola’s talk got you scared? Need to start getting your SEO ducks in an SEO row but don’t know how? You can download the handy guide below to get you started.