Google Search Results Shake Up & How it Affects Your Site

Iain C

Another shake up in search results as Google moves to a ‘mobile first index. What does this mean for you if you have a responsive website or a mobile version of your website and more importantly what will the effects of the change be on SERP’s. If you don’t already cater for mobile devices this is a must read…

Every website is affected by change in search focus announced by Google™

Google are making a change, and it is a massive one for anyone that does not have a responsive or mobile version of their website.

Mobile SEO and website compatibility is about to get bigger than ever

With the rise of mobile devices over the last few years it has been inevitable that websites that provide a good user experience across all devices will do better in search results than those that do not.  In fact several changes over the last 2 years, such as the “mobile friendly” notification back in May 2015, hinted at the change that was coming.

Following Google’s May 2015 announcement, savvy  businesses started putting more care into ensuring their domains and digital marketing campaigns were mobile friendly.  Responsive websites quickly became the “must have” for anyone who needed to appear in search engine results (SERP’s).  It was also pretty important for your users who are accessing the web more and more via mobile devices.  If your website does not cater for their device they may have decided to visit one of your competitors that did.

This is about to become even more important!

According to a recent Google announcement the search engine, which has a massive search market share will be moving to a mobile first search index. What this means is that they will primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank the page against a search query.

“Today, most people are searching on Google using a mobile device. However, our ranking systems still typically look at the desktop version of a page’s content to evaluate its relevance to the user. This can cause issues when the mobile page has less content than the desktop page because our algorithms are not evaluating the actual page that is seen by a mobile searcher.”

Google will still provide a great search experience on all devices, it is just how they are viewing your content that changes. This is an important shift in how they index pages but one to which they have committed themselves to. They have already tested and experimented and will be ramping this up in the coming months before making the switch permanent.

How does this affect you?

When mobile search was in its infancy, Google relied upon desktop signals to make decisions about how to rank websites in the mobile results.  This meant you would tend to get a mobile rank based on your desktop presence, whether your domain was mobile friendly or not.  Later came the “mobile friendly” tag which was a stepping stone to this announcement.

Now that Google (other search engines are likely to follow) has begun to focus on a mobile index, being mobile-friendly will no longer be optional.

It will be mandatory for anyone who wants to use a website as a marketing tool.

The mobile version of your website will be Google’s first point of reference to see if your website satisfies its criteria and vital relevance to queries.  The doomsayers may be right in suggesting that it will not be long until your website will not appear in Google at all if it is not mobile friendly.  I do not subscribe to that thought just yet but it does seem entirely possible given the rapid shift in SEO focus in recent years.

Although there is not a timeline for when these changes would occur, testing has begun and the announcement is suggestive of months.  The smart money is looking at a springtime change but no-one seems to be thinking beyond the first half of the year.

Whilst this is vague and potentially scary for those currently still holding off on switching up to a mobile friendly operation, it DOES mean that there is still time to get your affairs in order and prepare your online presence for mobile search.

How do I Prepare for this?

  • If you have a responsive website where the primary content and markup is equivalent across mobile and desktop, you should  assess you your content ensuring priority searchable content remains priority on your mobile version. Essentially you should not have to change much or anything.
  • If your site is not responsive or you have a site configuration where the primary content and markup is different across mobile and desktop, you should consider making some changes to your site.  If you have a mobile site rather than a responsive site there are changes that should be made to markup and content that will ensure that all versions of your site remain healthy in respect of SERP’s

Need help in understanding how this affects you?

Drop us a line or give us a call and we will discuss with you what, if any changes you should consider in light of this coming shift.

On the other hand if you are not yet mobile friendly you really need to contact us to discuss your options.  It does not have to be a painful experience.

Not a Welland client?  Talk to us today on 01733 309666 to make sure you will not be adversely affected by this.

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