Mobile-First Index Rolling Out and Page Load Speed Signal Weight Increasing from July 2018

What’s the news?

On March 26, Google announced that after 18 months of testing it is beginning to roll out the mobile-first index. Back in 2016 Google first detailed its plan to change the way its search index operates and how it will eventually use the mobile version of a website’s content to index its pages. Google further explained, “Related, we recently announced that beginning in July 2018, content that is slow-loading may perform less well for both desktop and mobile searchers.”

What does this mean for your company?

Mobile-first means that when a site has a different url for desktop and mobile Google is crawling and indexing content based on the mobile site first and then primarily using those results for both mobile and desktop SERPs. If a site is responsive, there will be no change in the indexing.

As the number of mobile users continue to grow so too does the need to optimize specifically for the customer experience on mobile. The mobile SERP has become increasingly contextual, displaying different layouts depending on the search query, the location from where the search is performed, and user’s past search behaviors on that device. In fact, this is how Google improves its own customer experience for its search users.

BrightEdge Research has found that during the mobile-first calibration period, rank for the same queries–across mobile and desktop–was different for 79% of searches. And that 35% of the time the content from a domain that ranks highest is a different page in mobile than in desktop results. This is a topic that BrightEdge has been tracking and reporting on since the big mobile update of April 2015. We will continue to monitor the degree of alignment and difference in desktop and mobile results after this mobile-first rollout.

Importance of the mobile-first index: 79% of keywords overall have different serps for mobile and desktop

With these changes, brands should continue to focus on 3 primary objectives to succeed with the mobile-first index:

  1. Quality. Quality content is authoritative and engaging.
  2. Relevance. Relevant content effectively addresses people’s needs and questions. Increasing the mobile orientation of your content, for example place awareness, will make it more relevant to mobile users
  3. Customer experience. Customer experience on the site has to do with design and performance. For mobile, page load speed is a major factor in a good user experience as well as having a low bounce rate from your page back to the SERP. Google also recommends AMP-enablement for all sites, which can be both a customer experience and speed factor.

Quality, relevance, and customer experience all work together to entice users to click on your SERP results and then keeps users engaged on your site. Content creators, SEOs, UX designers, and site architects need to consider and verify the content and user experience on mobile to make sure it is well optimized. For example, they need to make sure to check and optimize the page load speed on both devices.

Consumers have gone mobile

There is no question now that every business has to consider their marketing strategies on all device types. Increasingly, more consumers (and B2B customers) turn to mobile devices to engage with brand throughout the customer journey via researching on a mobile device.

  • For many industries, mobile traffic from organic has surpassed desktop traffic; the latest BrightEdge research has found that on average 57% of the website traffic now arrives from either mobile or tablet devices.
  • According to Think with Google, 93% of people who perform research on mobile devices will go on to make a purchase. Furthermore, mobile drives or influences over 40% of revenue for leading B2B organizations.

Importance of the mobile-first index: 57% of online traffic now comes from mobile and tablet

In recent years, consumers are no longer just researching on their mobile devices, but are also starting to convert at higher rates on mobile. These mobile users want to see quality websites–mobile users who do make a purchase through their devices will visit the website for the brand an average of 6 times before they hit “buy.”

More resources to help you win on mobile

BrightEdge has published a few resources related to mobile optimization. Here is a summary of top 5 articles that will help you.

  1. Winning mobile with Smart Content and AMP
  2. See how BrightEdge helps with your mobile optimization
  3. Mobile SEO marketing
  4. Mobile-first index Google
  5. Mobile-first experience

Additionally, BrightEdge recently released a one-click dashboard template in StoryBuilder, called Mobile-First Dashboard, making it easy to establish baseline understanding of your mobile performance. This dashboard will show you website KPIs on mobile vs. desktop, and your SEO performance on mobile SERP vs. desktop SERPs. Review these metrics to help you identify growth opportunities and prioritize accordingly.

You can also use BrightEdge ContentIQ to identify portions of your website impacting the mobile user experience. ContentIQ performs a site audit crawl as a Google smartphone bot, similar to running a mobile-friendly test on Google. When you set up the crawl, make sure you also add your mobile domain, or if it is a responsive site–which is recommended–run the crawl on your entire domain.

Brands should track the proportion of mobile and desktop traffic and bias toward the design and experience of its majority.

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