The push to mobile continues. Google made another announcement earlier this month at the Search Marketing Summit in Sydney that they are pursuing adding mobile page speed as a ranking factor for their mobile search algorithm. Currently they are not using page speed of mobile sites to determine rankings and in fact are using desktop page speed as a ranking factor, even on mobile devices. This means that a website who has a very fast desktop website and a slow mobile site will, all other things being equal, outrank a website with average desktop page speed and a fast mobile site. This seems counter-intuitive to Google’s whole mantra of providing the best user experience. A slow mobile website will frustrate users and therefore provide a poor user experience. Hence the upcoming changes.
Mobile page speed will most likely factor into the search algorithm on a plus minus scale. In it’s simplest form, if your mobile site receives a score higher than the benchmark it will receive a proportionate boost in rankings. Likewise if it falls below this benchmark it will receive a proportionate negative boost in rankings. No benchmark has been set as of yet and a tweet from Gary Illyes, a Google Webmaster Trends Analyst, stated that “we’re still in the planning phase so I can’t give you a concrete answer. Aim for the highest” when asked about what the benchmark will be.
What Does This Mean For You?
What does this mean for you as a business owner? It means that you NEED to invest in your mobile site now more than ever. You may remember that back in May Google implemented another change to their mobile search algorithm to increase the rankings boost of mobile-friendly websites over non-mobile-friendly sites. As more and more searches are done on mobile devices small business owners need to be aware of the fact that if they do not have a mobile-friendly website with quick load times, simple navigation, and numerous other factors that they will be buried in the search results.
The majority of local search is performed on mobile devices, this means that people who are looking to buy your products or use your service will be unable to find your business. If you are a service based business such as a restaurant, coffee shop, or hotel you will be missing out on people’s mobile-centric searches potentially costing you thousands of dollars in yearly revenue. Mobile-centric, or micro-moments, are search queries that occur inside of a very particular set of circumstances. For example someone searching for “coffee shop near me” is looking to find a coffee shop that they can visit, or “hotel near me” is a search performed by someone looking to stay at a hotel. According to data from Hotels.com 74% of “Hotel near me” searches result in same day check in. These mobile-centric searches can be very valuable. You, as a business owner, need to be aware of this and optimizing your online strategy to get in front of people at the right time. How do you that? Mobile search.
How do you get on mobile search? Having a well performing mobile website that is highly relevant to what the user is searching for. Search engines are increasingly becoming more interested in topics and ideas over the traditional keyword heavy days of old. This is primarily facilitated by artificial intelligence machines such as Google’s RankBrain and the significant increase in voice search conducted by digital personal assistants such as Apple’s Siri. As we move to using more natural language in our search queries and Google becomes even better at understanding this language we will see the search landscape become more competitive. This is due to the fact that Google will be able to fully understand all of the content on your website and build a more comprehensive idea of what search terms they should return your website for. The better they understand the harder it will be to suggest ranking for fringe, or semi-related, terms which will in turn create a smaller number of actual search results for your business.
What Should You Do?
As a small business owner you need to be aware of these coming changes. Make sure your website is up to date, mobile-friendly, and has quick page load times. These three things will each give you a strong boost in mobile search rankings. If you are consistently changing and adding content to your website you will also see a boost in your overall rankings. These four simple tips can go a very long way to increasing your mobile rankings and increasing your businesses visibility online.