Google is always tinkering. Innovate it or break it, it is what they do. But there has not been a major update concerning mobile versions since the dubbed “Mobilegeddon” in Spring of 2015. This was when Google decreed that having a mobile friendly site was mandatory if you wanted to rank. Now luckily this current update is not going to affect ranking.
Google has been playing with Mobile-First Indexing for about a year and a half and now all the notes are coming out. Currently the indexing status is not separate from Desktop Indexing, which will forever be treated as the base standard for your website. For now, there will be a new crawl stat added called “Smartphone Googlebot.” Now you have data to cross reference with your incoming traffic of Mobile users from Google Analytics! Now what’s interesting is Google will start showing mobile versions of pages in search results. Normally all pages are based off the Desktop version, and when you access a site on your phone or tablet the site is pinged to adjust to your screen or bring up their dedicated mobile version.
What is fascinating about this (if you’re a data junky like me) is that we are going to one day have very in-depth metrics and tool for each version of a website. Almost all sites nowadays are responsive, meaning they can adjust their look and assets to any sort of screen size. You can test this out by visiting any website, grabbing the side of the window, and dragging to resize your browser. If the site scales down to size, it is responsive. If it doesn’t or it looks clunky, it needs help (Reach out to us here for web design!). Right now the factors are all about page design and site structure. Your mobile site must have mobile-friendly URLs, structured data, and here’s the kicker: meta data and content. Some sites have a separate version for phone that has less content so it can load faster, but if you want to be indexed here, your mobile site should contain the same content as your desktop site. Combine that with meta data (title, tags, meta description, SEO in general), this is the groundwork for a whole new area of SEO.
Now let me tell you WHY this is fascinating. Because of we are going to eventually have a separate indexing, meta, and webmaster tools for just mobile. And this means a whole new strategy because the keywords are going to be different. On desktop you can sit down and search anything. You have space, you have time, it’s the wide open internet. But when searching on your phone it is always more targeted. More local by default because most of the time your searches are tied directly with your GPS. So if rankings for mobile specifically get released, the keywords are going to be initially harder predict but more organic. The users will tell YOU what they are searching for, much like the queries section in our monthly SEO reports we give to clients. This means Mobile-First Indexing will affect map packs and local keywords immensely. Having the right geo tags and long-tail keywords will give you the edge in this new expansion of digital real estate.
It’s been awhile since we had a shakeup from Google, and it is not hard to imagine Google one day dedicating a ranking factor just for mobile as we evolve into an increasingly on-the-go type of world. It’s exciting, but its going to create a lot more work for me.
-Josh, Zeeqk SEO Expert and Data Junkie