Google Mobile First Indexing – What It Means

Google Mobile First Indexing – What It Means

Google begins ‘Mobile First‘ indexing – what it means for your website.

Google announced in November 2016 that they were starting with mobile first indexing. What will this mean to the rankings of your website on Google?
Here’s a brief overview:

What is ‘Mobile First‘ indexing?

As you may know, Google has seen a significant shift from desktop computers to mobile devices. Most people now search Google using a mobile device such as a phone. Until now, Google’s ranking algorithms primarily looked at the desktop version of a web page. Of course, this can cause some issues when the mobile web page shows less content than the desktop web page that was evaluated by Google’s algorithms.

For that reason, Google plans to primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages. The search results will still be available for both desktop and mobile devices. However, the focus will be on mobile.

Google have stated:

“We understand this is an important shift in our indexing and it’s one we take seriously. 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.”

So what do you need to do?

Google is serious about building a mobile-first index. For this reason, you should make sure that your web pages can be indexed correctly by:

Having a fully responsive website design

Fortunately, many websites that have been built in the last couple of years have a mobile-friendly responsive website design where the content is the same on mobile and desktop. So if this is the case, fortunately, you do not have to change anything! However, if your website is not responsive, then if you care about your rankings and website visibility, as well as user experience then now is the time to update!
You can check and see if your existing site has a mobile-friendly website design here:

This Google will test will analyse your website and report if the page has a mobile-friendly design.

 If you have a mobile friendly website design – still review the content!

In some cases, developers have produced websites that have less or limited content on their responsive mobile-friendly version. If you have a website configuration where the primary content is different across mobile and desktop, you should be making some changes to your site to make sure the content is focused and optimised toward mobile. If your mobile pages have less content than your desktop pages, your pages might get lower rankings with Google’s new ‘mobile first’ index.

Check out our Mobile First Update Blog for more details

Google Mobile First Indexing – What It Means

Google Algorithm Updates 2016


Every year, Google changes its search algorithm (The way it calculates, interprets and ranks websites). Over the course of any year, these changes can be in excess of 400 or 500 hundred! Whilst most of these changes are minor, Google occasionally rolls out a “major” algorithm update (such as Google Panda and Google Penguin) that affects search results and website rankings in significant ways. In nearly all cases Google keeps the details to themselves, rarely announcing and always being vague or forthcoming with information relating to these changes.

2016 was no exception for Google, in fact in many SEO circles; experts agree it has been one of the most active, intense even for on-going changes and shifts!

Here’s a very brief list, and overview of just some of the major algorithm changes by Google in 2016 and what we know.

November 2016, Unnamed Update
Google did not confirm any information, but there was widespread speculation that this was the mobile-first index being tested.

October 2016, Penguin 4.0, continued
The second phase of Penguin 4.0 was rolled out early-mid October. (See announcement September below)

September 2016, Penguin 4.0
The first rollout of Penguin 4.0, started late in September and focused on specific web pages with ‘toxic links.’ (See announcement September below)

September 2016, Penguin 4.0 Announcement
After almost two years from its original rollout, Google finally announced a major Penguin update. The announcement focused on web pages with ‘toxic links.
They indicated that the new Penguin is now real-time and part of their “core” algorithm.

September 2106, Possum
A massive local search algorithm update kicked in on September 1, 2016.
Google didn’t release any official details however the SEO community named it
‘Possum’. Evidence seems to indicate that this update only impacted ranking in the 3-pack and Local Finder (AKA the local results or Google Maps results), however, some data also suggested it also heavily impacted organic results.

May 2016, Mobile-friendly 2
Just more than a year after the original “mobile friendly” update (April 21st, 2015), Google rolled out another ranking signal boost that benefited mobile-friendly sites on mobile search.
May 2016, Unnamed Update

Activity indicated an update to its core algorithm, but Google would not confirm this update

February 2016, AdWords Changes
Significant changes were announced by Google in relation to Google AdWords in late February. Google announced it will stop showing ads on the right side of desktop search results worldwide. Instead, an additional fourth advert (PPC) may show above the organic search results and may appear for some highly commercial and large volume queries.

January 2016, Unnamed Update
Google confirmed the unnamed update (john Doe?) simply stating it is a “Core Algorithms Update.”

Google Mobile First Indexing – What It Means

Size Matters! When it comes to SEO

Recently we were asked by a new client who is in the process of having their website built by us “How much text content to do I need to supply for our website?” They operate in a niche, specialist, and professional industry. Great question! It got us thinking about the ideal length of text one should consider for their web pages.

There are really no hard and fast rules, however, when it comes to web text content, the size of your document really does matter. It’s certainly not a case of “I have more words than the opposition website, therefore I rank higher on the search engine results.”

Importantly the text content must be of value to the reader. Generally, a visitor to your website has the intention to, learn something, do something, or potentially want to take some action, having found your website.

According to Business Insider, one of the largest business news sites on the web, one of the most common misconceptions is that people nowadays will not pay attention to ads or communications that have more than a minimal amount of ad copy.

The reasons most commonly given to support this notion are that people:

  1. Do not like to read.
  2. Have short attention spans.
  3. Are in the habit of reading short messages in texts.
  4. Are too distracted with multiple media channels.
  5. Have their noses buried in mobile devices.

However Business Insider stated, “While these reasons are often true, the conclusion that short copy sells better is not.”

So our thoughts are, when it comes to the text content size on your website, using more words means more ranking opportunities and ideally having a minimum word count of at least 300 words per page or more of valuable unique content will help you rank well in search engines. This should be combined with a solid foundation of integrating between 5 to 10 volume keywords, that you wish to rank for while still keeping the content natural.

In fact, we believe people are generally willing and eager to read longer, more in-depth content but always remember people want quality, and this can always be a challenge to create, but if you do, your website will get you noticed in all the right ways!

The SEO adage “length is strength” is supported by this SEO industry study which found that longer content tends to rank significantly higher on Google’s first page.

They stated” Based on SERP data from SEMRush, we found that longer content tends to rank higher in Google’s search results. The average Google first page result contains 1,890 words.”

Of course, it’s certainly is possible to rank very well in Google for competitive keywords if your page only has a handful of words, provided your website has a trusted, authoritative domain and is supported by quality inbound links.

Google Mobile First Indexing – What It Means

Getting Ranked Locally on Google

Getting ranked in Google’s local search results is extremely important if your business offers products or services in a particular local area.

How can you make sure that your website gets listed in the local results in the relevant areas?
Google has recently published official information on how to get listed for relevant searches in your area.

Firstly make sure that you’ve entered all of your business information in Google My Business, so customers know more about what you do, where you are, and when they can visit you.

Here are five key ways that will help!
If you want more information and the link to the Official Google guidelines see the link at the bottom of this page.


1. Make sure that your data is complete
Local results favor the most relevant results for each search, and businesses with complete and accurate information are easier to match with the right searches.

2. Provide as much information as possible
Provide information like (but not limited to) your physical address, phone number, and category. Make sure to keep this information updated as your business changes and make sure it remains consistent.

3. Verify your business location/s.
Verify your business locations to give them the best opportunity to appear for users across Google Search and Google Maps.

4. Keep your opening hours accurate
Entering and updating your operating and opening hours, including any special hours for holidays, public holidays and special events, lets potential customers know when you’re available and gives them confidence that when they travel to your location, it will be open. Updated opening hours helps Google know that your business is still in business and active. A great time to review this is when daylight savings starts and finishes.

5. Respond to reviews
Responding to reviews shows that you value your customers and the feedback that they leave about your business. High-quality, positive reviews from your customers will improve your business’s visibility and increase the likelihood that a potential customer will visit your location. Always interact with customers by responding to reviews that they leave about your business.

Check out the full details on the official Google Page: Improve your local ranking on Google


Google Mobile First Indexing – What It Means

Why Invest in SEO: 5x Key reasons for future business growth

As customers and potential customers start to spend more and more time online, searching for products or service, as a business you need to ask yourself one simple question; “Will they find our business or our competitors?”

SEO or Search Engine Optimisation for your website will have a significant impact on your business, not only now, but in years to come. Yes, there are ways to stand out in the Google rankings game, such as pay-per-click advertising (PPC) which can quickly drive potential clients to your website and social media which is a great way to interact with your customers, however, SEO lays the base foundations for your online presence.

Therefore for any business, it only makes sense that to succeed in an online marketing world, you need to have a solid SEO strategy in place and as such, an investment in SEO can yield long-term benefits.
Here’s why:

1. SEO is going to be here for a long time!

As long as Search Engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo etc.) exist, so too will SEO, it’s that simple.

All website and business owners will continue to compete for attention and higher rankings in these Search Engines. Those businesses and website that continually improve their website’s rankings will receive the benefits of increased traffic, visibility and sales. Simply put, as long as the rankings are ordered, people will always want the visibility of a top result.

It’s no hiding the fact that we are now all highly reliant on Google to provide us with an answer to any question that pops into our heads, a product we are looking for or service we require and for Google to provide the solutions we are after.

It, therefore, appears that SEO is going to be here for a long time. Since SEO does take time to become effective it would be wise to budget for and jump on the SEO bandwagon sooner rather than later.

2. It provides real results.

Take any keyword phrase (what you type into the Google Search Engine) and look at how many pages of Search Engine Results there are. There are pages and pages of SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) that highlight just how much competition any business is facing with their website.

In fact, more than 70% of clicks to any website occur when they are on Page 1 of a Search Engine. This means being on Page 1 provides your business with the highest visibility, which can lead to more people clicking through to your website. Which ultimately adds to increased leads and sales and of course your bottom line profits.

3. It’s cost-effective.

Quality SEO is not cheap! Initial upfront costs may be high and you may even experience some negative return on investments for a few months, but over time, with an increase in rankings and visibility, the benefits will likely start to outweigh the costs. In fact, SEO may be one of the cheapest website strategies to invest in when looking for a return on any outlay over time.

4. The number of online searches continues to grow.Click Through Rate

According to Google alone, there are 4,00,000 searches per minute, worldwide! Combine that with the fact that the first five results on the first results page account for just under 68% of all clicks to websites, and you should start seeing how this all adds up! What’s more, it would be fair to assume that we can only expect these numbers to increase in the future.

Whilst we all do it now, in the very near future virtually everyone will be searching for all products and services online before making a purchase. Without SEO, these customers are going to have a hard time finding you online; they will be direct to your competitors!

5. Your competitors will!

The simple facts are if you don’t invest in SEO you competitors will and are! It’s simple: When a prospective client searches for your type of products or services online, only one of two outcomes is possible:

They will find your website or they will find your competitors website!

In the end, if you aren’t taking the initiative to improve your Search Engine Results positions, you run the risk of falling further and further behind your competitors.


Google Mobile First Indexing – What It Means

Google rankings and keeping your website up to date

Having just completed a review of a prospective new clients website, which wasn’t ranking well with Google, the client basically wanted to find out why. The site itself was built around 3 years ago. We discovered 4x key issues, which, whilst applicable to this client, anyone who has an older website should take note of and do some quick checks to see if they fall into the same categories.

These are 4x simple checks you should consider reviewing and adjust accordingly to improve not only your Google rankings, but also your prospective clients experience when they find your website:

1. Make sure you have a responsive design.

In the past, this may not have been such a priority, but mobile compatibility (for over a year) is now crucial. According to Google, more searches now take place on mobile than on desktop, so you have to make sure your site looks good and works correctly on the small screens, i.e. a responsive design.

You can do a quick mobile friendly test here to see if your website adheres to the latest Google practices.

2. Update and edit your Title & Description tags.

If the Title and Description Tags weren’t formatted correctly in the first place, then you are doing yourself no favours. However, like everything times change. According to Googles latest practices for best SEO Title Tags should be ideally 55 characters with spaces and Description Tags between 150 and 160 characters with spaces, the ideal being 155!

Find out more below:

Best SEO – SEO Basics -Title Tags

Best SEO – SEO Basics Description Tags

3. Identify and remove any duplicate content.

Nothing can kill a website faster and drop its ranking than duplicate content. Duplicated content is also very confusing for Google, so the chances are you won’t get any good visibility, and even if readers did somehow make it to your website, duplicate content is seen as spammy. Review all your website content and get rid of this immediately.

4. Add new relevant and unique content

Google loves websites that are frequently updated. Review your existing content ~ is it up-to-date? Have you added new products or services? Can you add new images to the website (fully optimised of course)? Do you have add blog? All these factors can assist improve your SEO results and keep prospective clients updated.