Google search went mobile-first

The majority of the world’s population, clocking in a 7.5 billion people, have a mobile device. This number continues to rise, and multiple studies reveal that the majority of all internet traffic takes place over mobile. In addition, mobile technology is growing at an exponential rate, and it makes sense that Google is now rolling out search results that give primacy to the mobile web over that of desktop.

Search results based on the desktop experience isn’t optimal for users, because desktop sites will often have more content than what marketing adds to mobile. In contrast to the current reality, Google Product Manager, Doantam Phan, writes:

“Although 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, to understand structured data, and to show snippets from those pages in our results.”

With these changes, it’s not the best choice to have two separate websites for mobile and desktop. Going with a responsive site that adapts to all screen sizes, meeting consumers where they’re at in the micro moments, and providing an optimal user experience that creates raving fans of your customers makes sense. If an organization’s mobile site contains different and / or less information than an independent desktop site, Google’s mobile-first prioritizations could have profound — and negative — impacts on organic SEO search results.

Google’s push to mobile-first results has a huge impact on an enterprise’s digital strategy. The search giant’s dominance forces the marketplace to also shift its priorities. In this instance, Google is focused on mobile user experience (UX). Phan emphasizes this point multiples times through the post:

“Of course, while our index will be built from mobile documents, we’re going to continue to build a great search experience for all users, whether they come from mobile or desktop devices….We’ll continue to carefully experiment over the coming months on a small scale and we’ll ramp up this change when we’re confident that we have a great user experience.”

The good news is that this gives organizations time to make the necessary changes before being adversely affected.

It’s still surprising how many large organizations and enterprises don’t have responsive websites. With most web traffic coming from mobile, making consuming content and buying products on mobile a frustrating user experience is beyond incomprehensible, because it’s such a basic fix. Add to that, Google confirmed many times the importance of mobility on page rankings, and yet companies continue to ignore this paradigm.

The importance of enterprises paying off their technological debt, being agile, digital and mobile are critical to survival. Legacy systems can be phased out with hybrid solutions, front and backend systems can be integrated, and websites can be mobile optimized and made responsive.

With departments battling over finite resources, it’s time for corporate leaders to make holistic digital decisions. Having a mobile presence and being digital first isn’t an either / or option for companies. Moving in this direction must be a top-down organizational initiative that filters into all departments.


Originally published at blogs.perficient.com on November 15, 2016.

Show your support

Clapping shows how much you appreciated Robert Echevarria’s story.