Garlic bread isn’t the future any more (what a job that would be, mmmm). Mobile search is. Earlier this month Google said that “more Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries including the US and Japan”, and this is the start of a long upward curve. When you also take into account that tablets are, somewhat strangely, grouped with desktop searches those using Google ‘on the move’ is pretty huge.
This statistic came just after Google’s mobile update, dramatically dubbed mobilegeddon, which was rolled out on 21 April. According to the search giant, there was a 4.7% increase in mobile friendly sites during March and April meaning many webmasters were clearly scared of losing traffic during the algorithmic change. Although it appears rankings were not affected as apocalyptically as first thought, they certainly were affected, and if we’ve learnt anything from previous updates, like Panda and Penguin, it’s that this is only the beginning (of the end!).
If your site isn’t optimised for mobile search is won’t be ranking as high as it could do in smartphone result pages. That’s a fact and it is likely to get worse for you. Rising smartphone use means that Google will probably focus on serving these searchers better and better over the coming months and years. The algorithm will continue to be tweaked and before you know it you’re missing out on not just a little, but a whole heap of traffic. What’s the worst case scenario though? Mobile gets so huge that Google sees sense on the tablet ‘issue’ and then merges the desktop results to favour mobile results across the board.
I hear you, and sure, I’m now riding on the wave of that non apocalypse. However, mobile and desktop results have never differed so much as they do currently and dystopias are far more interesting than utopias! In a previous role about three years ago, myself and colleagues looked at rankings for a client’s preparation to move to a ‘mobile first’ strategy. Where that client’s website appeared on smartphones and desktop results for its key search terms wasn’t too dissimilar. In 2014, BrightEdge’s Mobile Share Report found that 62% of mobile search results differed and SEO Clarity stated that this increased as high as 73.1%. Whether it’s good, bad, or ugly, mobile search is real and business owners should be prepared.
Last month Bing was testing a mobile friendly tag in its search results and then announced on May 14 its own approach to mobile search. Navigation, readability, scrolling and compatibility are the primary areas it says a webmaster should concentrate on for mobile optimisation, basically UX, or user experience, but content is also key. You should be asking yourself questions such as is a mobile user operating in the same manner as a desktop visitor? Are they searching for the same things? Are they expecting to find the same type and style of information?
Mobile search is in its infancy, and even if you have a mobile friendly site today – check by using this handy Google tool – there’s nothing to say things won’t have changed in a year. The majority of the advice out there says this is one to act upon now and keep a close eye on, mobile progress waits for no one!