What do Google’s new Mobile Ranking Signals Mean for SEO?

For a long time now; marketers, webmasters and SEOs have known the importance of having a strong mobile strategy when it comes to providing a strong online customer experience. On Thursday February 26th 2015, this importance was suddenly at the top of everyone’s agenda as Google announced that it would be introducing 2 new prominent changes to its algorithm.

The announcement made on Google’s Webmaster Central Blog brought home what many had been putting off for quite some time. Furthermore, there is a lot of confusion as to what the impact of these changes are and how it may affect Search Engine Result Pages (SERPS) and overall natural Search Results.

Why is Google Doing This?

Unlike Twitter and Facebook that have always had mobile centric approach, the Mountain View search giant has been ramping up its mobile efforts, especially as newer players hat are mobile first like snapchat and Instagram are looking into its ad dollars. This threat of revenue loss and the need to improve the whole non-desktop experience, has prompted Google to accentuate a number of initiatives. Namely:

  • Mobile friendly websites in search results
  • Search results with more relevant App content

SEO is Important

With the growth of the multichannel or as it is now often referred to as omni-channel approach that incorporates a seamless experience across devices, SEO is now top of the agenda for most companies who understand where the market is heading. In a recent article published by Search Engine Watch on a survey of 50 brands and 1.1 billion search visits in 2014 by agency iProsect, it found that brands engaged with SEO saw a rise of 19.8% rise in natural search in that year. Furthermore, conversions from natural search were up an astounding 27%, a clear indication that investment in this sector is key for brands

Is Responsive Enough?

With the growth and adoption of responsive design over the last few years, many companies have been aware of the need to help existing and prospective new customer’s engage via mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Though this ticks a number of boxes, having a responsive site in isolation is not the same as having a mobile centric approach and Google will weigh up a number of these factors.

In Chuck Price’s article last week entitled ‘Mobilegeddon is coming…’ he cites Webmaster trends analyst Gary Illyes, saying that Google’s robot must be allowed to crawl both CSS & JavaScript to pass the “mobile-friendly” test and that Google is also working on a dedicated index for mobile.

In short, Google will rank the page as opposed to the site in its entirety so other factors like architecture, navigation and site speed will all be taken into the mix though being responsive is a good start.

How can I Test my Site?

To make life easier and in true Google style, the company is helping webmasters make the search experience better, so use the Mobile Friendly Webmaster Tool in the resources section at the end of this piece to test your site alongside some of the other tools.

Resources

A Guide to Mobile Friendly Sites

Webmasters Help Forum

Page Speed Tools 

Reggie James
Having built and sold various technology businesses over the years, Reggie heads the consultancy and commercial side of the business. Approachable and pragmatic, Reggie previously ran the first dot-com to list on the Singapore Stock Exchange as well as developing business strategies for brands whilst at AltaVista and Yahoo! before launching Digital Clarity. As a passive investor, he is also involved in the US public OTC markets.