Despite radical shifts in how Google ranks websites, search engine optimization (SEO) remains one of the primary ways for businesses to generate awareness and credibility.
But the game has changed, mostly because Google – the dominant search engine in the world – continues to change its algorithms, sending marketers scrambling to keep up.
In fact, anyone who is involved in search engine marketing (SEM) has to remain flexible because the rules are fluid. For example, years ago, the number of keywords a business used in its content was the primary factor in how high that company ranked on search engines.
But with the growth of natural language processing that more closely mimics how people actually speak, keyword density became less important than keyword quality.
Instead of how many keywords you could stuff into your content, the focus is now on the relevance of keywords, which means long-tail phrases of five or more words have become much more important.
Google consistently makes changes to its algorithms, and the search engine giant recently announced that it will begin indexing and providing search results based solely on mobile content.
This is largely in response to the fact that a majority of users are now accessing content on their mobile devices as opposed to desktops.
So the question is, how will this significant shift affect organic ranking and your SEO campaigns.
Let’s take a look at what you can expect when Google implements its mobile-first indexing.
It Won’t Punish Sites That Haven’t Gone Mobile
If for some reason you own a business that lacks a responsive website, which means that it is not optimized to adjust its dimensions when users are on a mobile device, you don’t have to worry…yet.
Google has announced that it will continue indexing sites that only have a desktop version, so you won’t get punished in search rankings.
But Google’s shift to mobile-first indexing should be a wake-up call to you if you are still holding out on optimizing your website for mobile users.
An increasing number of people are accessing the Internet primarily through a mobile device, and they have no problem moving on to another company once they realize that your site is not optimized to offer them a great experience when they are on the go.
Responsive website design isn’t just about improving the overall look of your site, it’s about making sure that you don’t lose any customers or prospects because your navigation, call-to-action (CTA) buttons and ease of use isn’t good enough when users are on their mobile devices.
It Will Force Businesses To Create More Content On Mobile Sites
Some businesses that have mobile sites often offer less content on those sites than they do on their desktop sites.
That could be a problem with Google’s mobile-first indexing, because if the desktop version of your site has more content than your mobile site, Google will still index the mobile site, which means that you will likely rank lower in search results.
This is more incentive for you to adopt a responsive design strategy, because that ensures that the content on your desktop site is the exact same as the content on your mobile site.
With responsive design, the only difference is that your content adapts to the smaller dimensions of mobile devices without losing anything else. The focus is on ensuring that the user experience on mobile is exactly the same as it is on a desktop.
A user should be able to leave his or her home in the middle of browsing a site, and then access that site on a mobile device without having any navigation issues.
If you choose to create an entirely new mobile website, however, then you will have to make sure that the content on that mobile site matches or exceeds the content on your desktop-site.
Otherwise, Google will index your desktop-site, and that may not generate the kind of search results that are beneficial for your company.
It Will Create Two Different Indexes…For Now
When Google’s new indexing rolls out, there will be two indexes, desktop-first and mobile-first. Although most users won’t know which index their results came from, Google eventually hopes to offer only the mobile-first index.
But until the company sees how things are going with mobile-first, it will continue to generate two indexes.
According to its mobile-first indexing page, Google will continue to carefully experiment over the coming months on a small scale and we’ll ramp up this change when we’re confident that we have a great user experience.
It May Affect Rankings Due To Links
Traditionally, mobile-friendly content has had less links than content optimized for desktops.
The reason is that while the site that has the link may be optimized for mobile users, the site that users are linked to, may not have the same level of responsiveness.
As a result, businesses that create mobile content tend to limit the use of links in an effort to keep the user experience harmonious.
But the problem with Google’s mobile-first indexing is that quality links have always been one of the ways for sites to rank higher in search results.
That means that mobile-first indexing could affect sites that are forced to limit links, and rank them lower on search engine results.
Too Soon To Tell
Google’s higher-ups have said that they don’t expect mobile-first indexing to change search rankings significantly, but they do admit that until they roll out the change, it’s too soon to tell what impact it will have.
But it’s never too soon to examine your SEO campaign or your SEM strategies. Knowmad Digital offers premium marketing services, including SEO services, local SEO and responsive design that can help boost your mobile-search rankings.
We understand that companies have to remain fluid in order to quickly respond to changes in search engine algorithms that could significantly affect marketing success. Please contact us today to see how we can help you stay on top of your marketing needs.
Matt is an observer. His keen attention to detail and knack for noticing the little differences set him apart. Coupled with his ability to think laterally, this skill creates an opportunity for him to think of innovative and unique ideas designed to help clients meet their goals. At Knowmad, Matt focuses on SEO and PPC services.