This month the world’s leading Search Engine, Google announced a major algorithm update for 2018, introducing a new ranking factor for their mobile algorithm. This shiny new update is aptly named ‘Speed Update’, and will impact sites with slow mobile page speed. This Google algorithm update will be officially rolled out in July 2018, and Google stated that this new ranking factor, “will only affect pages that deliver the slowest experience to users and will only affect a small percentage of queries. It applies the same standard to all pages, regardless of the technology used to build the page. The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal, so a slow page may still rank highly if it has great, relevant content.” – find out more about their 2018 algorithm update here.
This announcement doesn’t really come as a surprise – it only seems natural that Google will start to put more emphasis on mobile pages with quick loading speed and high-quality, relevant content. In 2016 Google rolled out their Mobile-First Index, which saw an emphasis on mobile versions of pages and content displaying in SERPs. One of the main reasons behind this is because more than 60% of global searches on Google come from mobile. (Search Engine Land).
Why is mobile optimisation so important?
Ensuring your site is optimised for mobile SEO is a crucial element when it comes to your website’s online success. People are using their mobile to search, shop and browse more than ever before, which means that you need to make sure your website is optimised and ready for mobile search. It doesn’t matter whether your site is ecommerce, directory, content or whatever – if you want to see your site in Google’s SERPs, you need to ensure your site is responsive and mobile-ready. More than 30% of online shopping comes from mobile, and if your mobile site takes more than three seconds to load, consumers will exit the page, therefore affecting your site’s bounce rate. Alongside this, 79% of shoppers admitted that if they were dissatisfied with a site’s loading speed, they wouldn’t purchase from the same site again. (Think With Google)
The importance of SEO optimisation across multi-channels
However, that’s not to say that we should only focus our efforts solely on mobile SEO and responsivity – desktop still has a huge impact on the majority of sites. Many people use their phones for ‘everyday’ activities such as browsing sites, scrolling through social media and messaging peers, but people still prefer to use bigger screens such as desktop and tablets for more detailed actions. Whether this is booking a holiday or making an expensive purchase, businesses must take a holistic approach to all the channels that are bringing them traffic.
The graph below by comScore shows a breakdown of traffic for retail sites across mobile and desktop – as you can see, it is fairly equal when it comes to consumers using smartphone and desktop. This shows that it is imperative for businesses to consider an SEO strategy that both engages and measures the multi-platform majority across a number of devices. This extends to more than just basic onsite optimisation. Businesses need to consider user-flow and the user experience – these will ultimately differ on each platform. Alongside this, they must ensure that site health in terms of technical SEO is excellent.
This also sheds some light on why ecommerce businesses receive more traffic from mobile, but the conversion rates from mobile aren’t as high. The user in question may choose to return on desktop and make a purchase at a later date. Our client Diamond Heaven receives the majority of their traffic from mobile, but over half of online transactions comes from desktop – you can see this in the graphs below.
Sessions from mobile, desktop & tablet
Transactions from mobile, desktop & tablet
It’s imperative to keep track of the split between people using mobile or desktop devices when visiting your website, and ensure they are optimised accordingly. Understand your users’ behaviours and adapt both your desktop and mobile site to suit this.
How to prepare for the Speed Algorithm Update in 2018?
Look at your page speed for both mobile and desktop.
Whilst this may seem fairly obvious, the first thing you should do is test your site’s page loading time. There are plenty of tools available to do this. PageSpeedInsights tests your site’s speed across a range of devices and tells you what you need to do in order to improve your site. TestMySite looks at mobile and sends a detailed report straight to your inbox.
Ensure your site is designed for mobile.
You need to ensure that your site (or a version of it) is designed for mobile, and ideally responsive. The majority of SEO experts will advise that responsive design is probably your best bet, but it is entirely up to you. You also need to make sure your mobile site is free of mobile interstitials and designed for users to navigate with their finger. It’s all about the scrolling and tapping.
Focus on local optimisation
Google’s ‘Possum’ update had a huge impact on the local search algorithm, and mobile search is imperative for local businesses who want their site to drive people to their stores. Sign up for your Google My Business listing, ensure you’re targeting ‘local’ keywords, and make sure your contact details and address can be easily found on your mobile site.