Mobile devices and especially your phone have become smarter and omnipresent in your daily life. How does its responsiveness extend traditional SEO?
Think of 3 things you are always carrying with you. I guess that 90% of you have thought of wallet, keys and phone. Your phone is not only used to call somebody, it is actually your personal assistant. It keeps track of your calendar, helps you navigate through traffic, provides you with geolocation information.
All the things you were doing from a computer are now accessible from anywhere at anytime. It is holding an ever-growing knowledge about your personal life hence becoming an extension of yourself! Thanks to this tool, users fashion new habits and develop an appetite for real-time communications. They are searching on the go and are expecting to get a fast and reliable answer.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is reacting and adapting to these news trends. Mobile-centric SEO is simply a subcategory of SEO that targets at tuning up user experience on mobile devices (phones, tablets, wearables). As you may know if you have read the Introduction to Search Engine Optimization (SEO), it is a two-fold process. First, search engines improve and refine their own recipe to rank websites. Secondly, website designers need to reflect those changes in their own implementation and contents.
From a Search Engine point of view
Search engines, while acting as mediators between your audience and your content, collect a lot of valuable information about the search process. Consequently they compute a wealth of statistics. In return they provide metrics and a detailed overview thus helping website managers to improve their ranking score.
In 2016, Google noticed that mobile devices were representing more than 50% of the search traffic and kept increasing at a steady pace. Therefore it started a shift to mobile-first search index.
Search engines are adjusting the weight of 3 ingredients in order to favor a better mobile user experience. We will focus our attention on mobile friendliness, speed and relevance.
Mobile friendliness means that the site content must display flawlessly to different sizes of screen while ensuring readability.
Speed is an indicator of how fast pages are displayed along with the fluidity of navigation.
It relates to the amount of waiting time a user is likely to bare before bouncing.
Technically, it is the duration a content needs to download from website hosting servers and display onto your web browser. An easy metric to remember is to keep it under 3 seconds.
Relevance refers to the quality of content. Search engines process complementary information made available by your phone to tailor it to your very needs. They take into account your geolocation information, your centers of interest and your search history to make the answer as personalized as possible.
From a web content owner perspective
As we did in the previous section, we will focus on addressing these 3 ingredients of success.
Mobile friendliness implies adopting a responsive design approach. A responsive design enables a website display to change depending on the size of the viewport or screen, regardless of the device on which it is displayed.
One way to undertake this, would be adapt your content structure and make use of dedicated meta tags.
<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0" >
It helps provide a homogeneous experience whichever the device used hence working well with a cross-channel marketing strategy. To sum up a responsive website is no longer an option — it’s a requirement.
Speed is a fairly easy indicator to understand. However, technology and phone carrier are not able to offer a bandwidth comparable to their cabled or wifi-capable counterparts yet.
Streamlined content, compressed and smaller images, native HTML5 and CSS animations are ways to achieve this goal. Nevertheless the challenge is to find balance between rich content and fluidity of display.
Relevance is closely linked to the knowledge and understanding of your audience. Specific data collected by phones and the use of analytics tools can help you enhance the overall quality of your content.
For example, 80% of search are local and apply to your direct environment. So, you need to have a local presence and it is feasible using Google My Business.
Mobile phones are definitely partners of our daily routine and it can feel difficult to spend a day without them. Meanwhile, Tech Giants prepare for the next shift, and keep on developing and improving their Artificial Intelligence (AI) assistants and Chatbots. They are already widely available on our phones — Siri on Apple and Google Assistant on Android — but we still mainly type in to search the web. In the light of Christmas 2018 top technology gifts, there was a noticeable increase in voice capable equipment. Google forecasts that voice search will represent more than 50% of search traffic by 2020. Therefore a lot of potential improvements in the SEO field such as natural speech recognition versus keywords and key phrases. Who knows what the future holds.
Resources: “The 6th edition eMarketing textbook” from Red & Yellow.
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