Over the past few years, we have seen a significant switch from the use of desktop computers to mobile devices, which has influenced the way Google and other search engines index and rank sites.
Since Google controls 75% of the search engine market, we’ll use it as our focus for analyzing this trend.
The overall number of searches coming from a mobile device now outnumber searches on a desktop (Google groups desktop computers and tablets together), with mobile devices currently accounting for over 60% of the traffic.
To add to this, it is estimated that 77% of adults in the U.S. now own a smartphone, up from 35% in 2011. This number is also significantly higher (approximately 88-92%) in adults ages 18-49.
How Will This Affect Your Website?
This data does not necessarily mean that the majority of users coming to your site are using mobile devices. For example, after looking at our own website in 2016, I found that approx. 66% of people used a desktop while approx. 34% used a mobile device.
However, it does mean that how Google views your site will continue to evolve as mobile traffic continues to rise.
Five Ways Your Mobile Experience Could Affect Search Traffic Volume in 2017
1. Google indexes your site based on the mobile version, or mobile-first indexing
In order to improve the experience for the majority of its users (mobile users), Google has changed the way it indexes sites, shifting from desktop to mobile versions of the site.
In other words, instead of referencing content from the desktop version of the site and indexing that copy for search engines, Google will begin to look at the content you have on the mobile version.
If the two are the same, then the actual content indexed is not necessarily a problem for you (we will get to other potential issues using this system later).
However, if you have two different versions of your website for desktop and mobile, Google is using the content on the mobile version of your site to rank you, even if users are searching on a desktop.
If the content on mobile is simply a rough outline of the desktop experience, this could negatively impact your ranking, especially as more changes are unveiled throughout 2017.
In general, creating a site that is responsive is a better approach than trying to make two versions for desktop and mobile.
2. Google is looking for mobile responsiveness in evaluating user experience
For those who do not have a dedicated mobile version of their website, all desktop content will be indexed by Google, which is great.
However, there may be some other factors that could negatively affect your site this year.
Google wants to provide the best experience for its users, and one way it does that is by ranking sites based on how user-friendly they are. The mobile experience of your website is now a key factor in this evaluation, and more specifically, your website responsiveness.
You may have experienced a website that requires constant “reverse-pinching” on your smartphone screen in order to zoom and read the information, which Google recognizes as a hassle for users trying to access that content.
Likewise, having content that is large and requires scrolling left and right to read is not ideal.
If your website is not mobile-responsive, you will likely begin to see a decrease in search volume traffic, if you haven’t already.
3. Responsiveness isn’t enough; Google is looking for user-friendliness in mobile
This may seem similar to the last point, but the mobile design of your website is very important.
You may have a site that is mobile-responsive, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is easy to use. The layout of your website on a mobile device may be difficult to navigate.
This can include:
Graphics that are not to scale
Be sure to critically test your website on a smartphone and make adjustments to ensure it is easy for users to get to what they are looking for.
4. The speed of your mobile site matters
In addition to the factors listed above, Google is also starting to take the speed of your mobile website into account for ranking purposes.
When evaluating the effectiveness of your mobile site, it is important to assess the speed. If your site takes more than a few seconds to load, many users will simply leave and find a competitor, so this factor is important beyond just SEO equity.
5: Google has only just begun
We are anticipating even more changes to Google’s algorithm in 2017 in regards to mobile, with even more advantages given to sites with a positive mobile experience.
If you do not have a mobile-friendly site, it is best to get ahead and start to make proactive changes. If your site has not experienced a drop in traffic yet, it might in the near future.
Although these changes may look daunting, working toward an effective, mobile-responsive website could give you a huge advantage in getting ahead of competitors and provide you with a boost in traffic and leads in 2017 and beyond.
Check to See if Your Site is Mobile-friendly
Do you want to test and see if your site is mobile-friendly? Check out this tool from Google!
Contact Us for Help Creating a Mobile-friendly Site
Do you need help designing a site that is mobile-responsive, or are looking to make changes to your current site to make it responsive? We have expert experience in building mobile-friendly websites and increasing responsiveness for existing sites.
Contact HNTR Marketing today so we can help boost your mobile experience!