Everything You Should Know About Google Mobile First Index

Google is rolling out a new mobile-first index. This means Google will create and rank its search listings based on the mobile version of content, even for listings that are shown to desktop users. Wondering how this will all work? We’ve compiled answers below.

Since the announcement, we have been tracking what Googlers have been saying about the change based on the industry’s questions. Below you will find a compilation of those questions and answers based on coverage from Jenny Halasz, Jennifer Slegg and me.

What is changing with the mobile-first index?

As more and more searches happen on mobile, Google wants its index and results to represent the majority of their users — who are mobile searchers.

Google has started to use the mobile version of the web as their primary search engine index. A search engine index is a collection of pages/documents that the search engine has discovered, primarily through crawling the web through links. Google has crawled the web from a desktop browser point of view, and now Google is changing that to crawl the web from a mobile browser view.

What if I don’t have a mobile website?

Google said not to worry. Although Google wants you to have a mobile site, it will crawl your desktop version instead. Google said, “If you only have a desktop site, we’ll continue to index your desktop site just fine, even if we’re using a mobile user agent to view your site.”

If you have a mobile site, then you need to make sure the content and links on the mobile site are similar enough to the desktop version so that Google can consume the proper content and rank your site as well as it did by crawling your desktop site.

My mobile site has less content than my desktop site. Should I be nervous?

Potentially, yes. Google has said that it will look at the mobile version of your site. If that has less content on page A than the desktop version of page A, then Google will probably just see the mobile version with less content.

This is why Google recommends you go with a responsive approach — the content is the same on a page-by-page basis from your desktop to your mobile site. You can do the same with other mobile implementations, but there is more room for error.

What about expandable content on mobile?

With desktop sites, Google said that content hidden in tabs, accordions, expandable boxes and other methods would not be weighted as high. But when it comes to mobile, Google’s Gary Illyes said content like this will be given full weight if done for user experience purposes. The idea is that expandable content makes sense on mobile and not so much on desktop.

Will this change the Google rankings in a big way?

Both Gary Illyes and Paul Haahr from Google said this should not change the overall rankings. In fact, they want there to be minimal change in rankings around this change. Of course, it is too early to tell, they said — but their goal is not to have this indexing change impact the current rankings too much.

When will this fully roll out?

Google said they have already begun testing this mobile-first index to some users. But it looks like we are still months away from this fully rolling out. Google won’t give us a date because they are still testing the rollout, and if things go well, they may push it sooner. If things do not go well, they may push it back.

Google did say they will push this out to more and more searchers over time as they become more confident with the mobile-first index.

Is this a mobile-friendly ranking boost?

Google has previously said that content that’s not deemed mobile-friendly will not rank as well. That remains the case with this new index.

In the current index, which most people will continue to get results from, desktop content is indexed and used for showing listings to both desktop and mobile users. A special mobile-friendly ranking system is then used to boost content for Google’s mobile listings. Content that’s not mobile-friendly doesn’t perform as well.

In the new mobile-first index, which some people will get results from as Google rolls it out, mobile content is indexed and used for showing listings to both desktop and mobile users. Then the mobile-friendly ranking boost is applied, as with the current system, to mobile-friendly pages.

How can I tell if Google sees my mobile pages?

The best way is to use the Fetch and Render tool in the Google Search Console. Specify the mobile:smartphone user-agent and look at the preview after the fetch and render is complete. What Google shows you in the rendered results is likely what Google can see and index from your mobile site. If content is missing, then you should look into how to fix that and run the tool again.

Ranking signals will come from your mobile, not desktop version

Google has ranked your mobile site based on many signals from your desktop site, as we covered before. That is going to flip, and Google will rank your mobile and desktop sites based on signals they get from crawling your site from a mobile view.

So the page speed of your mobile site will determine the rankings of your mobile site and desktop site in Google. Google will also likely look at your title, H1s, structured data and other tags and content generated from your mobile site, and use them over your desktop site.

Doesn’t this just flip the issue the other way to where Google is ranking its desktop results based on how it sees your mobile site? Yes, but Google knows that, and the trend is that mobile keeps growing and more and more searchers will use mobile over desktop to search.

Will Google have different indexes for mobile and desktop?

Eventually, Google plans to have only one index, one which is based on mobile content, to serve listings for both mobile and desktop users. During this rollout period, there will be two: desktop-first and mobile-first. A smaller group of users will get results out of the mobile-first index. It’s not something that anyone will be able to control. People will likely have no idea which index they’re actually using.

As Google grows confidence in the mobile-first index, eventually that will be the only index used. Or if the new index isn’t deemed useful, Google could go back to a desktop-first index. It has, after all, called the mobile-first index an “experiment.”

Google said in their blog post, “Our search index will continue to be a single index of websites and apps, our algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site.”

Paul Haahr from Google reiterated it by saying, “Index of mobile pages for mobile users and index of desktop pages for desktop users won’t happen.”

Will links and rankings change because of this?

There is a concern that mobile content tends to have fewer links than desktop content. This is a concern that is similar to the concern listed above around mobile content having less content than desktop content. Google’s search results are very dependent on links and content. So if both links and content are impacted, will the rankings be impacted?

Google said they are still testing, so it isn’t 100 percent clear. Gary Illyes said, “I don’t want to say anything definite about links yet. It’s too early for that cos things are very much in motion.”

Canonicals: Will you need to change them?

Google said the canonicals will not need to be changed, just keep your canonical tags as is, and follow their recommendations as listed on their blog post.

Can I see the change and the impact in the search results now?

Google said you shouldn’t be able to see the change and impact of the mobile-first index rollout now. In fact, Google said it hopes there is little to no impact after it is fully rolled out. Paul Haahr said, “I would be very surprised to detect any effects of mobile-first indexing at this stage.”

Technically, this is a global rollout, so it won’t be hitting specific regions only.

This should be a fairly comprehensive recap of all the questions and answers compiled.

5 Ways to Boost Brand Awareness

The process of building a strong brand for professional services isn’t only about developing an impeccable image and reputation. The market tends to fluctuate and the competition never sleeps. Thus, the aspects just mentioned are insufficient to achieve all the company’s business goals.

What matters, are means of maintaining the status quo (an excellent reputation of the service) in the minds of the target group. This becomes possible through affecting the processes of brand perception. The more it’s visible and recognizable, the easier it is for people to remember and use it. One can achieve this thanks to the five tools discussed below.

1. Showcasing your services using added value

Companies that provide professional services allot most of their budgets to marketing actions, especially advertising. Although traditional advertising campaigns ensure market visibility, they lack the capacity to strengthen the company’s reputation. Here’s where two certain elements come in, that help you efficiently build a brand. These are means for conveying declarative and procedural knowledge, such as articles and e-books. You can use them to provide comprehensive information regarding your services, as well as to share your rich experience.An ad for your service delivers a clear message to the target group: ‘I’m selling this service, because I say so’. A well-crafted article about your operations, on the other hand, allows its audience to draw conclusions and assess the quality of your service on their own. An article is a direct way to showcase the enormity of knowledge and experience possessed by the specialists in a given industry.

By lifting the veil on professional knowledge, you don’t create a one-way relation with the audience, but rather a win-win situation. You share your knowledge and competence, and in exchange, you receive something way more valuable – the trust and loyalty of your target group.

2. Focusing on High – Quality Content

Taking good care of the type and quality of the shared content is a key aspect of modern branding. Professional knowledge that you convey should be updated with the most recent scientific and current affairs content.This is the only way to convey reliable knowledge, that will strengthen the trustworthiness of your services. Writing e-books about the scope of your operations isn’t aimed only at winning new customers, but also at fostering the ties with the currently existing target group, which is directly linked to the next step.

3. Establishing & Maintaining Relations with Co-Partners

Initiating and maintaining contacts is directly correlated to high-quality content shared with the audience. It may be a good idea to start working with other professional service providers, whose work will indirectly affect the image of your brand. The quality of the shared content is closely linked to implementation of research-based scientific knowledge. Conducting your own research is an endeavor that boosts the brand’s credibility and implies establishing a work relation with a company dealing in methodology and statistical analysis. Only precise, standardized and thorough research results confirm the quality of the content you publish.

4. Being Visible Online

Among the most basic platforms, whose efficient use will make your business more recognizable, is the Internet. These days, most people looking for services turn to online search engines. Businesses with great reputation and strong brands, but with no online presence, significantly narrow down the group of their potential clients.Simply having a website isn’t enough either. High level of competition in the market is tough to tame. It’s a jungle out there – there’s one superior rule that governs the myriad of offers – only the strong will survive, which in Internet terms means the one, who’s better optimized for search engines. Optimizing your website in regards to content and keywords is of utmost importance. You might want to take care of this aspect, starting with the analysis of what’s been done so far, and finding aspects that can be improved upon.

5. Social Media

While sitting on high-quality content, you’re looking for channels to reach an audience as wide as possible. Strictly speaking, to make the word come to life, you need means to spread it. Such means are provided by social media. Using social networks, you can share not only your expertise, but also initiate interactions, which are a great source of feedback.Social media can be used to establish new contacts with potential clients, as well as to foster ties with your current target group. This way, a service provider is even able to reach certain groups among his local community. All the essential tools discussed here will help your brand become more recognizable in the sea of similar professional services, which will in turn reinforce the reputation of your business.

A Content Marketer’s Guide To SEO: A Checklist

Content is an integral element of search engine optimization (SEO), so check out columnist Thomas Stern’s handy check-list to ensure your content reaches its full potential.

It’s 2015 and by now you’ve been told, again and again, the importance of developing valuable content to increase your visibility in search. It’s time to cut through the noise and step up with some advice you can actually use to generate results from content development.

The checklist below is intended for marketers to use with their team to identify specific tasks needed to create valuable content that generates results.

We recommend leveraging this check list to guide content marketers and capitalize on opportunities in your industry. Start by documenting your strategy and use this list each time you launch a new campaign to ensure your content reaches its full potential.

Understand How Users Search

Content strategy begins and ends with users in mind. Of course, your end goal is to increase sales, but the best way to achieve that is to keep users top of mind in each phase of your strategy development process.

By understanding your target audience’s online behaviors, interests, and expectations, marketers can develop stronger content that compels users to interact with and talk about your brand.

  • Analyze current data from search, social, and other owned assets to identify user trends (top content, sharing/engagement, and demographic data)
  • See what content currently appears in search and what competitor content users see when searching for related terms and keywords
  • Examine competitor content strategies to understand what content your audience currently sees in search Identify what users want and expect from your brand
  • Create a story from your data that identifies trends, behaviors, and interests to develop personas for unique audience segments

Optimize For Users

With users in mind, your content should be formed around the interests of audience segments to offer more value. Targeting your content will draw stronger followings and deliver more quality leads. While achieving high search rankings for keyword targeted content is valuable, speaking to an audience is what drives engagement and conversions.

Identify how your post will offer value through education or entertainment and create content worth sharing

Support your ideas with references to validated, external sources to increase credibility and authority

Build your content around the topics and keyword phrases your audience is searching for to increase exposure

Keep content “human” in delivery that is easily digestible and appropriate for your audience segments

Establish your brand’s tone and voice in individual channels to create unique content that contributes to your overall focus and strategy

Explore different content mediums and delivery channels to determine what methods generates the highest engagement

Keep the limitations and unique features of mobile in mind when crafting content to ensure all users have a consistent and quality experience

Optimize For Search Engines

High performing content is a balance between users and search engines. Just as your content needs to quickly capture the attention of a user and clearly deliver value, search engines require the same consideration.

Optimize your content and distribution channels to help search engines make connections between your content and the information your audience is searching for. Be careful to keep your content “human,” as search engines have evolved to respond to quality more than over-optimization techniques such as keyword stuffing.

  • Maintain a consistent schedule and focus by creating a content calendar that identifies topics and keywords for each piece of content
  • Integrate keywords into content and back-end optimization such as headlines, page titles, URLs, and meta descriptions
  • Leverage tools to audit content for SEO such as Yoast for WordPress
  • Create unique pages for content to earn authority for individual assets
  • Generate quality links from bloggers and trustworthy publications to help search engines connect content with keywords
  • Perform periodic audits to discover and fix any broken links
  • When applicable, optimize content for local search with unique pages and detailed information for individual locations
  • Create an XML sitemap and submit to Google and Bing to assist in indexing pages
  • Amplify content with paid media to increase visibility across the web

Measure & Improve

Your data tells a story of the obstacles faced and opportunities created from your brand’s content and distribution, and analyzing this data provides a path to develop stronger campaigns. By understanding how audiences interact with content, marketers can hone their focus to increase visibility, engagement and conversions.

  • Pull reports from all owned, earned, and paid channels and identify patterns of engagement and interest
  • Leverage tools in analytics platforms to discover what content drives more traffic and action from users
  • Define clear goals in Google Analytics to monitor how content influences your conversion funnel and sales cycle
  • Monitor Google Webmaster Tools to look for site errors than can inhibit exposure in search
  • See how users move across your website and content with click tracking and heat mapping tools such as Crazy Egg
  • Use data to understand what content mediums, focus, tone, and distribution channels result in the highest engagement

Conclusion

Leverage this checklist to create stronger, more visible content by understanding which components of your digital strategy to monitor. By viewing SEO and content marketing as partners, your brand can put the right content in front of the right users with timely precision. Always keep your content top of mind and current by revisiting your strategy throughout the year.