At least when it comes to Google searches, it looks like mobile devices are winning fair and square over desktops. Google recognised in 2015 itself that it was getting more searches from mobile devices than on desktops and acknowledged this shift when it announced in late 2016 that it was moving towards a ‘mobile-first’ indexing after having used ‘desktop-first’ indexing right from its inception.
Clearly, times have changed and when Google says so, no one can really dispute it, can they?
Mobile first, rest later
It is a fact that mobile searches are outnumbering desktop ones across the board -- especially in certain countries and in certain industries. A 2016 survey from Hitwise, in fact, discovered that nearly 58 per cent of all searches in the US were coming from mobile devices!
As Google explained when it made the announcement, its algorithms will be eventually relying heavily on the mobile version of a website’s content to rank its pages, to show snippets in search results as well as to understand data. This is primarily because today, the way people access the web has transformed beyond recognition with an exponential increase in the use of smartphones and tablets.
But Google also said that though shifting to the mobile-first index is important and inevitable, it will do so on a small scale before ramping up and extending the index to cover more sites. This means, digital marketing companies have a window of opportunity to brush up their strategies and tweak their ideas to keep up with these new-age requirements.
So what should a digital marketing company focus on?
What this essentially means for a digital marketer is to understand that Google will begin to index and rank your site based not just on your desktop experience but also your mobile content. If both versions of your website have the same content (and experience in terms of page loading, graphics etc.), then Google will see the same thing and rank you in the same manner you were before.
But for those websites that have an unresponsive mobile page or content that varies across devices, it is time to brainstorm.
In such a case, digital marketers have to first evaluate their mobile site and determine what is lacking and how it can be fixed. They need to pay attention to all the factors that affect rankings -- from keywords, to quality of content to download rates to web design.
The second step is to ensure that all the relevant content that is gaining you rankings on your desktop version are migrated to mobile as well. This may require time and effort as well as bit of site building, but eventually, it will be worth it not just for Google indexing but also because it will make your customers happy.
Thirdly, with Google shifting to mobile-first indexing, it is time to rethink your overall digital marketing strategy in an increasingly mobile-centric world. Several factors come into play here; for instance, migrating to mobile might involve creating an app for your website or you might want to include elements of paid social in your mobile marketing. Not to mention making your content, pages as well as ads mobile-friendly.
In conclusion, with Google leading the way, brands have to gear up to welcome a world where mobiles rule over everything else.