Noxster — Mobile First SEO

the Mobile Revolution

There are quite a few SEO agencies out there. Noxster sets itself apart through its experience helping clients to foster customer links online. We optimize for algorithms, build link networks, and employ on-page and off-page technique. For years we have helped our clients expand their businesses through optimizing their online presence. In the past few years, a change in the way the SEO world operates has come. A paradigm shift. The mobile revolution was heralded by Google’s announcement of its intention to improve search results by converting its index to prioritize mobile-friendly results.

The Google Webmasters Blog updated with:
To make our results more useful, we’ve begun experiments to make our index mobile-first. 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. 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.

In essence, what this means is that from now, Google will rank your site based on its mobile version, for both desktop or mobile search. Your site must be optimized for mobile if it doesn’t want to be penalized in Google’s page rankings. Regardless of which device is being used to search for you, the search engine will prioritize sites that provide a quality mobile experience. This means that all businesses need to adapt to the mobile-first index in order to avoid losing ground to their competitors.

Responsive design

To rank well in Google’s mobile-first index, ensure that your website is, at the very least, responsive. Responsive sites will adapt to the screen size of the device they’re being viewed on. They can provide optimized browsing experiences for mobile devices and desktop users. This versatility adds value to a site. It incorporates a fluid site grid which employs proportionate, not fixed, measures. It also uses flexible texts and images, so that images don’t break the bounds of the screen and text remains legible. It uses CSS media queries to establish breakpoints for design changes. This means that the browser will know which version of your website to load based on the dimensions of the screen it is displaying to. There will be alternative iterations of the site to the desktop version for non-desktop devices.

To rank well in Google’s mobile-first index, ensure that your website is, at the very least, responsive. Responsive sites will adapt to the screen size of the device they’re being viewed on. They can provide optimized browsing experiences for mobile devices and desktop users. This versatility adds value to a site. It incorporates a fluid site grid which employs proportionate, not fixed, measures. It also uses flexible texts and images, so that images don’t break the bounds of the screen and text remains legible. It uses CSS media queries to establish breakpoints for design changes. This means that the browser will know which version of your website to load based on the dimensions of the screen it is displaying to. There will be alternative iterations of the site to the desktop version for non-desktop devices.

Your static, unoptimized website can feasibly be converted to a responsive haven of mobile content without too much stress or expense. However, while the design principles are immutable, much is dependent on the theme of your site as to how they can be implemented. Your site may require special solutions in order to achieve compliance with mobile site standards.

  • Default zoom: Where is the initial focus of the website zoomed to?
  • Element widths and heights: Rather than static values that can distort the display on smaller devices, set fluid dimensions for these elements so they can remain proportionate.
  • Resize images: Your images should also be adjusted to automatically scale according to screen size.
  • Breakpoints: Your site’s breakpoints for mobile devices should be organized with clean design in mind, not simply to accommodate devices with no thought to how it actually holds together visually.
  • Menu: A mobile menu that can scroll with your users will make your site much easier to use.
  • Font sizes & styles: Your font sizes need to adapt to the size of the screen. What may be readable on a desktop may be illegible on a phone.

Since responsive design’s ultimate purpose is to make your site more accessible to users on all devices, your testing process should involve many different devices and browsers. This is the best way to ensure that your content renders correctly.

Essentially:

From now, Google will rank your site based on its mobile version, for both mobile and desktop search. If your site isn’t optimized for mobile, you’ll be hurt for page rankings regardless of which device is being used to search for you. All businesses need to be ready for a mobile-first index to help their sites perform.

01

Responsive design

First thing you need to do to rank well on the mobile-first index is ensure your website is, at the very least, responsive. Responsive sites change based on the screen size of the device they’re being viewed on, creating optimized browsing experiences for phone users, tablet users, and desktop users. This adds additional value to a site.

  • Fluid site grid that uses proportionate, not fixed measures
  • Flexible texts and images
  • CSS media queries establishing breakpoints for design changes to make the site accessible for non-desktop devices

 

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I’ll give some standard tips on how to turn a static website into a responsive masterpiece, but please note that while the principles stay the same, your theme might be built differently, so consider these only as broad strokes. You might have to do some custom work for your own site.

  • Define default zoom
  • Set fluid element widths and heights
  • Resize website images to make sure our images are automatically scaled according to screen size
  • Implement breakpoints that are more design (than device) specific
  • Create a mobile menu
  • Adapt font sizes and style

Responsive design’s purpose, ultimately, is to make your site accessible. You should test it on different devices and browsers to ensure that your content renders correctly.

02

Invest in a mobile-optimized website builder

Digital screens are getting smaller and more mobile, so making sure your customers get the user experience they are supposed to regardless of how they view your content is what SEO practitioners strive for.

You can use a mobile-optimized website builder to make your website responsive to devices (such as what your user is viewing the site on) and adapt to the user’s needs.

Speed is also a major concern for people using devices to view websites. Optimally, perfectly designed websites with split-second load times are the goal, but compromises may have to be made in design to achieve a quick load. A fast website is crucial to maximize conversions, minimize bounce rate, and improve engagement. Noxster can help you get started on adapting your site today!

03

Mobile-optimized content

What does mobile-optimized content look like compared to regular content? To understand that it’s important to understand user behavior and preferences, along with the solutions available. Most mobile users have a shorter effective ‘attention span’ than other device users. That said, if you provide valuable, engaging content, it will be consumed by your visitors. After all, people are happy to digest articles, movies, and TV shows on their phones.

 

  • Use mobile apps to build engagement beyond your site. If your best content is shared on Facebook or Twitter, you can go viral.
  • Tell stories with your content. Mobile users will forgive high-quality content its length. If you’re struggling to ‘storify’ your content, consider the format. GIFs, infographics, articles, videos, even memes: you can leverage them to tell your brand’s story and appeal to your visitors in some way.
  • Grab your readers with a punchy headline.
  • Monitor how your content lands and analyze feedback.

Yesterday, Google announced a major upcoming change to its mobile ranking algorithm.:

In a short blog post entitled ‘Using page speed in mobile search ranking’, it explained that starting in July 2018, page speed will officially be a ranking factor for mobile searches.

The catchily-named “Speed Update” (a feat of inventive naming on a par with “Assistant”) is set to only affect “pages that deliver the slowest experience to users” and, in Google’s words, will only impact a “small percentage of queries”.

However, given that Google processes around 3.5 billion search queries per day (per Internet Live Stats), a “small percentage” can still amount to a lot of websites.

So for any website owners and SEOs who might be concerned about how this affects them, let’s examine what we know about the update so far, and what it means for mobile SEO.

Speed as a ranking factor: coming to a mobile update near you

Page speed has long been a ranking factor for search engines, but it’s never been as crucial as it is now. Google has frequently stressed the importance of speed in mobile user experience when advising webmaster. Google’s own initiatives, including Accelerated Mobile Pages and Progressive Web Apps, give site owners what they need to streamline their sites for mobile.

Here’s what we know about Google’s speed update:

  • It mainly effects websites giving slow experiences to users.
  • Even if technologies used to optimize for speed are used, such as AMP, Google will assess the site load speed, not the technologies. If an unoptimized site is faster than a site using AMP, the AMP site will be penalized.
  • Relevance is still more important than speed. A slow page that has great and relevant content can still rank highly. (But not more highly than a quick page with great and relevant content.)
  • User experience also matters. Consider your user experience metrics!
  • You can use Chrome User Experience Report, Lighthouse, or PageSpeed Insights to check on how a page is performing.

Speed as a ranking factor: coming to a mobile update near you

Page speed has long been a ranking factor for search engines, but it’s never been as crucial as it is now. Google has frequently stressed the importance of speed in mobile user experience when advising webmaster. Google’s own initiatives, including Accelerated Mobile Pages and Progressive Web Apps, give site owners what they need to streamline their sites for mobile.

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