In April 2015 Google decided that Mobile was to be a major factor in search, a mobile friendly website was to be an essential component of your online presence.
The date came and went and some changes happened but in general, the disaster some were expecting didn’t materialise. This year Google itself went “mobile first” – the search experience was revamped for Mobile, now instead of 3 paid results and 10 organic results, the structure of the results page has changed.
An example of the new SERP layout is as follows (ignoring PPC)
- 2 results from “Top Stories”
- Then a carousel with 10 news stories
- Then an organic result but with a long snippet about 280 characters
- Then a carousel of 5 news stories
- Then an organic result with an 80 char description
- Then a carousel of 6 stories
- Then 3 organic results
- Then another carousel of 5 items
- Then 2 organic results
- Then a text only carousel with 8 results
- Then 2 final organic results
This is a lot more information than before but the layout is good, it is easy to consume.
Being mobile-friendly is not an issue for most sites now, some of the older sites I analyse are still not responsive, but all new ones are. The main problem I have come across is actually the easiest to fix. If you are looking for low hanging fruit, optimise your images. It is stunning how often image size is slowing down pages unnecessarily – a simple process to “Save for web” using common tools such as Photoshop or Online tools such as http://www.imageoptimizer.net/Pages/Home.aspx – replace existing images with ones put through those tools and you have an instant improvement in page speed.
One area that has changed a lot over this past year is news – news has become much more prominent in SERPs. Google implemented a standard called AMP (accelerated mobile pages) to allow mobile pages to load very fast and they gave preferential positioning to pages using that standard. News organisations have been very quick to adopt AMP – Google has given large swathes of the home page to news stories – presented as regular results and as carousel stories.
But why would google focus so heavily on mobile when PCs are still so prominent? The answer may be very complicated but in general that is where the traffic is going and it is also where the future growth in traffic is. If you are wondering why the source of growth is to be mobile, consider emerging markets. In a country such as Indonesia where overall internet penetration is low, all of the growth is likely to be on cheap smartphones available for a fraction of the cost of even a cheap laptop.