Consumers spend three and a half hours a day on their mobile devices.
Consequently, Google has switched its priorities by introducing Mobile-First Index, which means that Google predominantly uses the mobile version of a page for indexing and ranking. In other words, if your page doesn’t look good on a mobile device, or if the mobile version has less content, you may lose rankings in both mobile and desktop search results.
What Google’s Mobile-First Index Means
Google’s new update is called the ‘mobile-first index’, and it’s true to its name. With this change, the search giant will prioritize your website’s mobile version on its result pages. In this article, we’re going to dig deeper into what Google’s mobile-first index is and what it means for you. We’ll then talk about how to prepare your WordPress website for this brave new world.
Let’s dig in!
What Google’s Mobile First-Index Is (And What It Means for You)
Google’s mobile-first index will reward responsive websites.
When you use Google to search for something, you will always see the same results whether you’re using a mobile device or a desktop computer. In the past, Google only used desktop versions of each website to determine its results, which lead to some issues. For instance, this meant that mobile users were served websites that weren’t mobile-friendly or featured less content than their desktop counterparts.
Due to the growing number of searches performed on mobile devices, Google is now rolling out an update called the mobile-first index. The main change is that Google will now index and rank websites by giving priority to their mobile versions. In other words, if your WordPress website provides a shoddy mobile experience, your SEO efforts will take a hit both on desktops and mobiles.
With that in mind, let’s break down how this update will affect you depending on what kind of site you have:
Desktop-only website. Google will still rank and index your website, but you should expect to take a hit in the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). Both mobile and desktop versions. Your mobile website will take precedence now, which means you need to work on its SEO. Responsive website. You should be safe since your site is already optimized to provide an excellent mobile experience. AMP and non-AMP pages. If available, Google will prioritize the non-AMP mobile version of your website.
If you’re a WordPress user and you’re using a modern theme, you likely don’t need to worry. After all, many popular WordPress themes these days are responsive out of the box, so your website’s already provides an equal mobile and desktop experience. If you’re using an outdated theme or one that’s not responsive, then now is the time to consider a full redesign.
The real problem is if you’re serving two (or more) versions of your website depending on the type of device your visitors use. In that case, Google’s mobile-first index will most certainly have an impact on your site, unless you prepare for it.
How to Prepare Your WordPress Website for Google’s Mobile-First Index (4 Tips)
If your website isn’t fully responsive, this should be your primary goal. However, a full redesign often takes a lot of time, and in the meantime there are other things you can do to prepare for the rollout of Google’s mobile-first index.
Keep in mind – this section assumes you have a website with both mobile and desktop versions. If you only have a desktop version, you can skip ahead to tip number three.
1. Make Sure Your Website’s Mobile Version Includes All Your Key Content
Your mobile WordPress website should include all the same content as its desktop version.
If there are two versions of your website, they both need to feature the same content. Some site owners use stripped-down versions of their sites for mobile users instead of creating mobile-friendly versions with the same content. In the past, this might have been enough, but now you need your mobile website to be as fleshed out as its desktop counterpart.
To be more specific, both your mobile and desktop websites should contain all the same information and features. This is true even if their designs are different. This way, users will still be able to find your content after the rollout of Google’s mobile-first index.
If you’re using a separate WordPress installation to serve a mobile version of your website, you need to ensure it has all the same posts and pages as the desktop alternative. The best way to do this is by exporting your desktop content and importing it into your mobile installation.
2. Add the Same Metadata to All Versions of Your Website
Your post and page’s metadata should be the same on both mobile and desktop versions of your site.
Aside from making sure both versions of your website share the same content, you also need to add identical metadata to all their pages. Metadata helps determine how search engines display your pages in the SERPs. Even if your mobile website shares the same content as the desktop version, but doesn’t have the same metadata, your SEO will still take a hit.
Metadata is essential to SEO since it enables you to have more control over your results. You’ve probably spent a lot of time working on your page and article’s meta descriptions, so you should make sure to include them on your mobile website.
The bad news is adding meta descriptions to your mobile content might take some time depending on how many pages your site contains. Even if you’re using an SEO plugin, you’ll still need to copy and paste each meta description into the right place manually. However, the effort is necessary since Google will be looking at your mobile site’s metadata first.
3. Continue to Focus on Website Performance
Website performance will still be important both for SEO and usability purposes.
One thing that’s not going to change with the mobile-first index is performance will still play a factor in your SEO. No one likes a slow website, whether it’s on mobile or desktop. More to the point, mobile devices sometimes have less stable connections, which makes website optimization even more critical.
How to Optimize Your Site for Mobile and Voice Search
Obviously, make your site mobile-friendly and fast (page speed is important!)
Adapt your content strategy to catch those featured snippet opportunities to outrank your competitors. Mobile users seldom have time to scroll, and with voice search there’s only one result being read to the user. This makes featured snippet optimization incredibly essential for your online visibilit — you are either there or nowhere.
There’s a lot to featured snippet optimization (which deserves a whole separate article which I already did), but it all comes down to:
Researching current featured snippets for your important queries (and learning from them)
Structuring your content with H2-H3 subheadings that address questions behind queries triggering featured snippets
Providing quick, concise answers (no longer than 90 characters) below each subhead for Google to grab and feature.
If you include these steps in your writing guidelines for your content creators to use, you are halfway there:
Scale your content creation process using Narrato to build a team of content creators that do a good job following those guidelines. The beauty of this platform is that it matches you to the most suitable writers automatically and, after some time, you have a solid team that knows your requirements and creates content fast. In an era when you need a lot of content, and you need it fast, this is a life-saver:
Google moved away from exact-matching keyword optimization years ago, yet our industry is somewhat slow to keep up. These days, Google doesn’t use the actual string of words that are being typed in the search box. Instead, it looks at the query context and analyzes the possible search intent to deliver results.
You can see this all around the SERPs and even in Google Suggest results.
Notice how Google interprets the query on the fly to realize:
You may have lost your cat, but you may be interested in pet and animal control centers, not just cat facilities
Your cat may have gone missing in the town of Halfmoon but it has legs, so chances are you may be able to find the cat in the nearby towns, including Clifton Park and Rensselaer
You may also post on Craiglist or search there in case someone already found it—which is an absolutely awesome idea!
What does this tell us?
Google has got very good at understanding searcher intent, and old-school content creation methods that focus on a single keyword string don’t work.
How to Optimize Content for Semantic Search and Search Intent
Simply Searching Google to get an idea of how it is interpreting a query is a great first step. Do the same type of research I did with that cat missing query — look for other ways Google is trying to solve the problem for the user.
Using semantic research tools is another good idea. Text Optimizer is an intent optimization platform that helps you cluster any search query into related concepts and entities. It uses Google’s search snippets to come up with ideas to expand your initial copy to provide more solutions and meet Google’s and its users’ needs:
Based on semantic research, it will even help you build sentences based on common co-occurrence analysis of the terms you select:
For years now, Google has been taking steps to become a destination, not just a discovery project. With knowledge graph, quick answers, and interactive and visual results, Google is building an ultimate resource that can give comprehensive answers to any query.
Within one search result page, we see:
Knowledge graph (that includes maps, user reviews, basic facts, etc.)
Related videos (This search element is interactive because you can scroll through the carousel to see more videos)
The visual results including more similar destinations, related searches, and more
Organic “text” results which are somehow lost in-between
This is where the concept of “SERP marketing” lies: you need to stop focusing on organic listings and start optimizing for all the other search elements, including videos, images and “quick-answer” sections (“People Also Ask” and featured snippets).
You need to take each individual search result page as a whole to achieve brand visibility there.
How to Dominate Google with SERP Marketing
There’s a lot to be done to create an effective SERP Marketing campaign. Here are some steps to get you started:
Analyze Your Current Opportunities
At IMN, we are building an ultimate SERP marketing tool that helps you determine all important content formats that needs to be created to dominate your target queries:
The tool uses your current rankings to show where you are missing out. Use this tool to understand your current opportunities better and optimize for those.
Set Up Content Collaboration Strategy
Content diversification brings in both challenges and opportunities. On the one hand, you need to continually come up with quality content assets in various formats, which is incredibly hard to scale. On the other hand, you get to leverage more mediums and try more tools and tactics, which is pretty awesome.
Content collaboration is the tactic that can solve many issues and empower your marketing with more benefits, including natural backlinks, trust and shares. And the good news is there are great projects that help you build contacts to co-create content and scale it.
BizSwipe is one example that allows you to easily build B2B connections for content co-creation and marketing collaboration. You can use advanced filters and easy connection tools to find partners and influencers who can help you diversify your content strategy:
Organize Your Strategy Using an Editorial Calendar
For content collaboration and co-marketing opportunities, consider using an editorial calendar solution that will help you organize your campaigns.
ContentCal is a marketing collaboration platform that can help you organize your omni-channel content marketing strategy and boost its effectiveness:
Use its “Content Campaigns” feature to schedule your upcoming content assets and put all the ideas, goals and tasks in each campaign brief.
Creating a central dashboard for all your content plans to be visible for your whole team is key to consistent and effective content strategy. With ContentCal each team member responsible for a single piece of the puzzle will be able to see and contribute to the whole picture.
At the end of the day, content diversification lies at the foundation of omnichannel marketing that has multiple benefits (including cross-device compatibility, smoother shopping experience, creation of more marketing channels and more). So you may want to start working on it whether you are worried about your search visibility or not.
This year has been huge for semantic data, with Google updating their initial guidelines and adding support for new types of structed data, including FAQPage, fact-check, and more. It is clear that Google is very interested in extracting more data from your pages and giving publishers more exposure in exchange.
The good news is that this gives SEOs a competitive advantage over those website owners who are not keeping up with Google’s moves.
As an example, here’s what FAQPage schema looks like in search results once you implement it:
This search snippet is interactive — you can click any question to unfold the answer, and from there, even get to the site for more answers:
SEO is moving fast — it is a very exciting industry to be in. From the earlier days on, those people who were fast to “get it” found themselves ahead of slower-moving competitors. Use the tools and tips above to get ahead of yours in 2020 and beyond!
SEO Trends for 2020
The Pros and Cons of Using SEO for Your Business
Check-out this in-depth look into the advantages and disadvantages of SEO that will help you make a more informed decision
SEO Delivers A Continuous Flow Of Free And Targeted Traffic
SEO Gives Your Business Exposure To People Who Are Looking For A Solution
SEO Generates Traffic That Have A Good Chance Of Converting
SEO Can Help You With Business Growth
SEO Sets You Up As An Authority In Your Niche
SEO Results Will Take Time
SEO Will Take A Long Time To Get An ROI
SEO Will Require A Big Investment For Competitive Niche
SEO has no guarantee for results (especially 1st page ranking)
SEO Provides You No Full Control
Risk of being penalized
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