Mobile Madness: A Look Into Google’s Most Recent Updates

By Ashley Costello

The many minds that make up Google are always actively looking for ways to improve the search landscape and a user’s journey through it.  After years of careful research and testing, they have finally begun to roll out the red carpet to showcase the results of their labor.  Most noted are the Mobile First Index and the Mobile Page Speed updates.

The Mobile First Index

Jumping all the way back to November 2016, Google realized it was regularly basing the relevancy of a page off of what was presented in a desktop view. By this point in time, the majority of searches were conducted through mobile devices. Since desktop and mobile views can be slightly different, this meant Google was potentially delivering less than stellar results to its users.

Thus, the mobile first index initiative was born.

What Does This Mean?

Google will still have a singular index, they are just placing higher importance on what is captured on a mobile device instead.  It’s all about improving search integrity as well as the mobile user experience.

Who Should Worry?

If your website provides mobile content via:

  • Separate URLs
  • Dynamic Serving
  • AMP/Non-AMP Page Versions

… It may be time to start thinking about a responsive web design.

How Can I Stay Ahead?

Remember that Google will prefer what is shown in mobile view over the desktop. Follow their best practices to stay relevant in search.

The Mobile Page Speed Rollout

We now find ourselves in February 2017.  Studies found that mobile conversion rates were lower than desktop conversation rates, even though 53% of all web traffic was from mobile devices. The reason for this? Simply the old age adage, “time is money”.

Users that are accessing information via a mobile device place a heavy importance on the speed that a page loads. Page speed has been a lightly-weighted ranking factor for desktops in the eyes of Google for some time now. However, from the data gathered in 2017, it was realized that to further improve the mobile user experience, page speed must be a heavily-weighted ranking factor.

What Does This Mean?

Google has discovered than many websites are lacking when it comes to their users’ mobile experience. If you want to rank in Google search, your webmaster must pay close attention to user experience metrics as well as quality content.

Who Should Worry?

The ‘Speed Update’ is set to target the slowest loading mobile websites out there. Given Google’s data, these will typically be websites with a mobile page speed well over 10 seconds. You can view the best practices table below to get a better idea of the average mobile page speed per industry.

How Can I Stay Ahead?

There are a variety of tools out there to test the performance of your website. This is because there are too many factors that can influence its overall performance. Be sure to use a combination of these resources when making moves to optimize your page speed.

  • PageSpeed Insights can be used to see your page’s speed performance, as well as provide suggestions as to how you can make it load faster.
  • Lighthouse is a ChromeDEV tool that will audit the page of site and generate a report based on how well it performed. It will then provide suggestions of how to improve the page.
  • Google Analytics can be used to evaluate multiple site KPI’s. When it comes to the ‘Speed Update’ be sure to pay attention to desktop vs mobile views, mobile page load time, and bounce rate.  The Behavior > Site Speed section is also full of valuable data.
  • TinyPNG is a great source for reducing the size of the images on your site- an important and easy fix to improve your site’s overall speed and performance!

There is also a great in depth article by Google engineer Philip Walton on how to properly look at performance metrics, perform tests on your site, and maximize the data that’s been gained.

 

About the Author

Ashley Costello is a Digital Marketing Specialist at ChoiceLocal. Her favorite hobbies are being a homebody and taking WAY too many pictures of her loved one’s pets.  When she’s not doing that, she’s working diligently to get her own business off the ground and preparing for mortuary college.

References

https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2016/11/mobile-first-indexing.html

https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2016/11/mobile-first-indexing.html

https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2018/01/using-page-speed-in-mobile-search.html

https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2018/03/rolling-out-mobile-first-indexing.html

https://developers.google.com/web/fundamentals/performance/user-centric-performance-metrics

https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/marketing-resources/data-measurement/mobile-page-speed-new-industry-benchmarks/

https://developers.google.com/search/mobile-sites/mobile-first-indexing