I’ve mentioned on numerous occasions how important it is to know your mobile ranks, but for 2017 it goes beyond important – if you care about SEO at all and what the future holds for your website, knowing mobile ranks is now officially mandatory for any and all websites as Google has launched its Mobile-First Indexing.
Google will primarily be crawling the mobile version of a website to learn how it should be indexed in search. What this means is Google will start to determine the overall organic rank of a website based on the mobile version of the website. In a nutshell, mobile ranks are now officially more important if you want to optimize for the biggest search engine on the planet. Having a good mobile rank will affect your overall organic rank, and if you rank well on mobile, you will also rank well for desktop searches. This also means that if your website has top-notch desktop SEO but lacks any mobile optimization, your desktop ranks might be affected!
If you’re new to all this, you should know that mobile ranks are different than desktop ranks because Google personalizes search results differently for searches done through mobile devices. For starters, mobile SERPs are always GPS targeted and influenced by where the person is physically located when he does the search. Mobile ranks are in fact “local ranks” that have gone through additional search personalization suited for mobile users. To know your website’s mobile ranks accurately, you need to use a SERP tracker and choose a location for the rank.
This allows Google to give us higher-quality and more relevant search results. For example, a person who searches his smartphone in Paris for “Chinese restaurant” will get different results than a person who searches for the same keyword from London. They will both get results for proper Chinese restaurants in their vicinity, instead of irrelevant Chinese restaurants they can’t even get to. Needless to say, the Chinese restaurants that did their mobile SEO properly will be ranked in the top results and consequently drive highly relevant traffic to their websites.
Here are just some of the things that can improve your mobile ranking with Google and make your website mobile-friendly:
- Responsive, dynamic serving, or separate-site configuration (the most basic requirement) – Is your site even viewable through mobile? The mobile version/configuration should be as similar as possible to the desktop version with the same content, links, and mark-up. Sometimes people will make the mistake of making the mobile version with less or poorer content (although there are some rare cases that it actually makes more sense).
- Responsive Design means pages and elements that adjust to the user’s screen instead of a single version with fixed measurements. Responsive Design is Google’s preference.
- Dynamic Serving means the same URL will be viewed differently depending on the type of device it is viewed from, and the design will be different accordingly.
- Separate Site means you have a separate URL for the mobile version of the main website, usually looking something like this: m.yourwebsite.com. If not done correctly, this can cause indexing issues with Google, so read up on it if you go with that approach.
- AMP protocol (Accelerated Mobile Pages) – This is a protocol to make web pages load very fast on mobile devices. AMPs load about 4 times faster than non AMPs and use considerably less data than normal pages. Google favors websites with AMPs.
- Finger-friendly design – Is the website designed for touch screens as well as a mouse? An example of a bad design choice in that regard would be tightly grouped elements, making it hard for a finger to tap accurately.
- Flash Elements – Mobile devices favor Java and HTML5, and many smartphones can’t see flash elements at all. Even YouTube defaulted to HTML5 back in 2015.
- Local SEO – Mobile search is always geo-targeted, so a well-optimized site for local search will also be a benefit for mobile ranks.
And the list goes on. You’re free to look it up further, as the internet is full of useful mobile SEO tips.
There’s also a much more obvious logical reasoning behind the importance of mobile ranks, and it’s something I talk about often in my posts – mobile is destroying PC in the contest of popularity. There are far more mobile devices than desktops, and the total Internet browsing done via mobile devices surpassed desktop browsing for the first time a few months ago. Mobile devices are becoming cheaper and cheaper, and they are far more available than an expensive desktop computer that not everyone needs or can afford. The statistics have shown several years in a row that most Internet searches on Google are done through mobile devices, a figure that grows every year and is sure to keep growing. It’s pretty old news saying mobile is the future, but I’ll say it again – it simply is, and one can’t ignore their mobile rank under any excuse anymore. And since Google is the one setting the pace in the search engine market, it’s only reasonable to assume the other search engines (be it Bing, Yahoo!, YouTube or Amazon) will follow suit in the same direction and go for a mobile-first approach.
If your website isn’t mobile friendly, it’s time to get on board the mobile train before your website ranks get stranded in some godforsaken ghost town outside top100 country. For starters, get to know your real mobile rank with PRT. It the most basic indicator of whether your mobile optimization is working or not! Start today (if you haven’t already):