Mobile SEO: Don’t get left behind!
Are you reading this on a mobile device? With each passing year, the answer to this question is more likely to be ‘yes’. According to CIRA’s internet fact book from 2016, about one third of all Canadian internet traffic now comes from mobile devices. Nearly half of young people (aged 18 to 34) use their mobile devices more often than desktop or laptop computers to access the internet. That’s a pretty big demographic that’s shifting to mobile. Shockingly, many websites, particularly small business websites, aren’t yet optimized for mobile viewing. Even Kelowna’s very own Castanet doesn’t have a mobile friendly website (though they do have a mobile app).
This isn’t just a matter of convenience for your mobile users, though that’s important, too. Mobile friendly web design is now a major ranking factor for SEO. Today, we’ll look at why you need a mobile friendly website more than ever.
Mobile Friendly SEO: A Brief History
Recently, mobile browsing crossed a major threshold. Over half the world’s population now has a smartphone. Let me say that again, with emphasis: over half the global population now uses a smart phone! While not all of these devices are connected to the internet, that’s a huge shift in the global order. In many cases, internet users around the world can only access the internet via their smartphone – residents of developing countries often can’t afford a laptop or desktop computer, but a phone is often a requirement for their daily lives. Google is not ignoring these trends. If a sizeable portion of the world’s population can only use mobile devices to search the internet, websites that display properly need to be rewarded, while desktop-only sites should be punished. Enter Google’s mobile website guidelines.
The Times Are a-Changing.
Since last year, Google has placed heavy emphasis on mobile friendly (or ‘responsive’) design practices. While Google search hasn’t fully shifted to a mobile-first philosophy, it’s an absolute guarantee that it will, and soon. Once that happens, non-responsive sites are going to practically vanish from search results. This will be the final nail in the coffin for Flash, an already-obsolete technology that is unsupported by mobile devices but still somewhat common on desktop websites. Google’s current plan is to split their search index in two, creating a primary (mobile) index and a secondary one for desktop results. That may slightly blunt the impact for desktop-centric websites, but realistically, the mobile search index is the one you want to rank for. If you had the choice of reaching 1/3 of the population or 2/3, I think most people would choose the latter.
What’s the Next Step?
Is your website optimized? If you said no, you are going to want to make some changes. If you aren’t sure, you can use Google’s mobile testing tool and page speed insights on your website. If either comes back with errors, you may be at risk of losing out on a ton of search traffic in the coming months. You might want to consider looking into AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages), an initiative by Google that aims to make mobile browsing faster and more user-friendly. AMP websites are certain to benefit from the changes Google has planned for its search algorithm. Fundamentally, it’s time to make the mental shift from desktop web design to mobile-first design. From an SEO standpoint, right now the big rules still apply. Content is still king, tags, titles, and descriptions still matter, and site errors will still set you back. The difference is that responsive design can no longer be ignored. Your best SEO tactic is to build a great mobile experience for your users.
Do you need a mobile site audit? Contact us and we will sort out your mobile situation. We’re Kelowna’s experts in mobile website design – we score a perfect 100/100 on Google’s Page Speed Insights tool!