Since the rise of smartphones back in 2007, marketers have been trying to perfect their mobile strategy. First it was deciding whether to create a separate mobile site. Then it became focusing on how to approach these “on the go” users. Now in 2016, the questions have changed. Today, there are over 2 billion smartphone owners worldwide. The technology has become so essential users don’t just use it while they’re on-the-go, they use it all the time even when other options are available.
Today, many view PCs as a limited version of the Internet. After all, it only provides access to the web. In comparison, smartphones and tablets provide: geo-location, photos and better interactivity thanks to things like push notifications.
It’s now essential for businesses to understand mobile users. They are no longer in the minority, especially when it comes to search. In fact, more Google searches take place on mobile devices than computers in 10 countries including the US and Japan.
So how can you improve your mobile search ranking in this ever changing landscape?
Make Your Site Mobile-Friendly
This should seem obvious, but it’s worth noting that you need to have a mobile-friendly site in order to rank highly on Google’s search pages. Previously, many businesses created separate mobile sites for their company, but often these would not have all the necessary features. More importantly, many people would forget to link their mobile site to their main site, leading to a drop in mobile search ranking.
Mobile-friendliness is absolutely a ranking factor in Google’s algorithm so it’s in your best interest to ensure your site loads properly on smartphones. How do you know if your site is mobile-friendly? Simply navigate to your site on a smartphone or tablet and see if everything aligns properly. If it looks off or you need to scroll to the left or right, then your site is not ready for mobile.
If your site looks fine, it’s still a good idea to run it through the Google Search Console and check out the mobile-specific errors on the reports.
One of the best ways to update your site, and one that Google suggests, is to make your site responsive. This essentially breaks your site into fluid grids that will adjust based on the size and resolution of the screen it’s on.
Improve Site Speed and Page Load Times
73 percent of mobile users have encountered sites that take too long to load. What is too long? About 3 seconds.
Nowadays with faster data connection and Wi-Fi, smartphones users generally expect pages to load almost as fast as it would on their desktop. If it takes too long, they have no problem navigating away to your competitor. Due to the importance mobile users place on site speed and page load times, Google has also factored it into their algorithm. That means the longer it takes your site to load, the lower it will be on the totem pole.
The easiest way to speed up your load time is to reduce your image sizes. From there, you’ll want to streamline the number of elements on your page, keep your style sheets to one if possible and reduce the amount of scripts you use.
Index Your App
Around 85 percent of mobile users’ time is spent on apps. Google and other search engines understand this and now are trying to integrate app indexing into mobile search.
If you index your app, you can set up the same link on your desktop site and mobile version inside your app. This lets Google provide the most relevant content based on context to users. Longer-term they hope to move to “app streaming” where users can access app content without even having it installed.
While not every business needs an app, you should consider one if you feel it would add value and exponentially increase your revenue. If you already have an app, ensure it supports http:// web links by implementing the App Indexing API.
Mobile Search Will Continue to Evolve
These trends support a wider push by Google to build the ultimate personal assistant. Already, Google has access to dozens of data points including:
- Search history
- Social connections
- Time of day
With the growing market of wearables, the technology can fine tune itself even further as it will be able to collect information on:
- Physical activity and health signals
- Beacons that can pinpoint exact location
- Signals that can indicate if you are walking, running, cycling or driving.
Google themselves now have put emphasis on micro-moments all concentrated around four main actions: Do-Go-Know-Buy. In order to stay ahead of your competitors, you’ll need to keep have a keen understanding of how to reach your audience at exactly the right time.
There’s no doubt the mobile search landscape is changing. While it’s unclear what the future might hold, it seems safe to assume mobile search will only continue to increase through the years. If you haven’t already made your site mobile-friendly, now is the time.