To be found online you must be mobile.
That is the truth of today’s search results as Google continues rolling out its mobile-first indexing in search query results. And, oh by the way, if new customers or supporters are going to find you they are going to find you in search queries.
What all this means, simply put, is your website must now be found, seen and read easily (and quickly) on mobile devices, smartphones most often. If your site isn’t useful on smartphones it isnt going to fare well in search results – what we used to call, “search engine result pages,” or SERPs.
Google announced back in early November its web crawler – or spider – would soon start scanning your website as if it’s a smartphone. If, by looking at your site as a smartphone, the Googlebot doesn’t like what it sees your rank in search results will drop significantly. This isn’t happening overnight and Google will for a while yet continue to rank desktop-only sites in search results but those days are numbered and some time in the very near future they will disappear altogether.
And, yes, having a good – useful and functional – website is still essential to successful digital marketing. And, yes, as Google continues rolling out its mobile-first indexing you site should be useful on smartphones.
Speed is also essential to mobile pages – the quickness with which a mobile page loads on a smartphone screen. Google has help with that, too, through its Accelerated Mobile Pages – AMP – Project. Google claims AMP pages load four times faster than other mobile pages. And Google also claims bandwidth use is reduced by as much as 10 times when using AMP pages.
Increasingly, it will be your mobile site that matters most. Specifically, the mobile-first indexing from Google will mean:
- If you have a responsive site or a dynamic serving site where the primary content and markup is equivalent across mobile and desktop, you shouldn’t have to change anything.
- If 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.
- Make sure to serve structured markup for both the desktop and mobile version.Sites can verify the equivalence of their structured markup across desktop and mobile by typing the URLs of both versions into the Structured Data Testing Tool and comparing the output.When adding structured data to a mobile site, avoid adding large amounts of markup that isn’t relevant to the specific information content of each document.
- Use the robots.txt testing tool to verify that your mobile version is accessible to Googlebot.
- Sites do not have to make changes to their canonical links; we’ll continue to use these links as guides to serve the appropriate results to a user searching on desktop or mobile.
- If you are a site owner who has only verified their desktop site in Search Console, please add and verify your mobile version.
- If you only have a desktop site, we’ll continue to index your desktop site just fine, even if we’re using a mobile user agent to view your site.If you are building a mobile version of your site, keep in mind that a functional desktop-oriented site can be better than a broken or incomplete mobile version of the site. It’s better for you to build up your mobile site and launch it when ready.
Why all the fuss over mobile?
The reason is simple: the overwhelming majority of us online today are getting online with our mobile devices as our primary tool.
Google’s own research confirmed this, too, in research published in September.
80 percent of us now use a smartphone, revealed the Google research. Nearly 60 percent of us will use more than one mobile device. Only 14 percent of us remain tethered to a desktop or laptop as our only connection to the internet.
And at this point in our evolution, 27 percent of us are using only a smartphone to reach the broader world through the internet. Mobile use around the globe topped desktop use for the first time in October.
This is what’s called a paradigm shift.
“Nearly 40% of people search only on a smartphone in an average day as they look to meet immediate needs,” Google research showed. “As a result of this shift, more Google searches are happening on smartphones than computers.”
What’s more: we’re spending almost three hours each day on our smartphones, while also and typically moving back and forth between smartphones, other mobile devices and laptops (or desktops).
“When at home, 1/5 of people use another device while concurrently using a (laptop/desktop) computer,” Google explains. “Fluid movement between devices changes our approach to marketing. Consumers now interact with your brand concurrently on more than one type of device, making it critical to provide the same great experience across screens.”
To say the internet is mobile may, at this point, seem obvious if not redundant.
But it remains a point to be made over and over until we all begin to realize we’ve really long ago left the friendly confines of a desktop computer tethered to land connections and, rather, started roaming expansively across the world linked to the Interwebz by the mobile devices affixed to our belts or stuffed into pockets and purses..
One must think mobile today, if one is going to succeed online (however success measured for individual companies or organizations).
The bottom line here for businesses and organizations, digital marketeers is we must also adapt to the new realities.
It means, simply put: Go Mobile or Go home.