Working in today’s fast-paced environment means mobility is the key to accomplishing tasks on the go. This is true for both productivity as well as leisure, with people turning to their devices for everything from information to entertainment. Brands are aware of the need to build mobile responsive sites for two reasons, consumer demand, and Google.
Google tells us that 94% of U.S. shoppers search with their smartphones and 77% of these searches occur at work or home. That means people would prefer to use their phones than a computer sitting right in front of them. As a result of this consumer behavior, Google now includes mobile responsiveness as part of its ranking algorithm. eCommerce merchants who previously had high rankings, excellent backlinks, and traffic, but neglected to optimize their sites for mobile, quickly lost page rank.
If you think about it, Google’s attention to responsiveness is quite obvious. If Google finds that people are searching for products to buy online, but the website is impossible to read or navigate on mobile devices, they will naturally search elsewhere.
Since March 2018, Google has moved forward with “Mobile-First Indexing.” In their words, “Mobile-first indexing means that we'll use the mobile version of the page for indexing and ranking, to better help our – primarily mobile – users find what they're looking for.” Although they say, “Mobile-first indexing is about how we gather content, not about how content is ranked,” you can bet that it is an essential factor in their ranking decision.
One way to check a website’s pages for mobile responsiveness is with Google’s tool. Paste this link into your browser, search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly, and then enter a page URL to test it.
Google is all about a positive and faster user experience. When brands are responsive, they are investing in their customers. Their user experience aligns brands with the correct long-term strategy of serving the customers. Google rewards mobile responsive sites with higher rankings, which coincides with higher organic traffic and sales.
Using Google’s Accelerated Mobile Page (AMP) assures you of higher rankings over websites that don’t use it. It’s been a requirement since 2016 for news stories to use AMP pages, and in 2018 Google began using mobile page speed as a ranking metric. AMP pages load as much as six times faster. Some retailers reported increased conversions from 15% up to 50% due to lower wait times.
So, what does this all bode for eCommerce? The best approach is to find out what options are available to make your store mobile-friendly. Brands like BigCommerce, Volusion, Shopify Plus, and others have apps available to aid in the transition. The best solution is to work with a partner and developers to ensure your pages load fast and work on mobile.
SEO, mobile responsiveness, and website design directly affect your bottom line by creating a better user experience. Making the right changes to your online environment can bring a higher ROI.
So what are the actual ranking factors that Google uses in their algorithm?
While there is no comprehensive list of the factors, Google uses there are many that are proven and some that are just speculation. Some are the kinds of things you would expect, and others can be controversial. Let's take a look at some of the top categories that these factors fall into.
The age of your domain has some impact but not what it used to. If you have a domain that is several years old, it may give you some advantage, but it probably won't be significant. If you have a new domain registering it for several years can give you a boost as Google views domains with long-term registrations as more legitimate. If your domain starts with a target keyword, you have the edge over sites that don’t have that keyword in their domain or if it is in the middle or at the end of their domain name.
Having a keyword in the Title Tag is not as important as it used to be, but it is still an important on-page SEO signal. Title tags that start with a keyword do tend to perform better than those that don’t. The more often a keyword appears on a page, the more likely it that the content of that page is about that keyword. But don’t overdo it, as that can have a negative impact as well. The length of content on a page impacts ranking as Google assumes longer articles are more comprehensive and are likely preferred by the algorithm when compared to shorter articles. As stated earlier in this article, mobile-friendly websites may also have an edge.
Content that provides value and unique insights is ranked higher as Google does not value websites that don’t bring new or useful information to users. For this reason, having unique content that Is not just copied from other sites is essential. Google also states they want sites to have an “appropriate amount of contact information.” So make sure you have a contact us page, and ideally one that matches your whois info. Well, through site architecture also helps Google thematically organize your content and helps Google access and index all of your pages.
How many referring domains you have is one of the most critical ranking factors in Google’s algorithm and having backlinks from domains that have been around for a while has more impact than backlinks from newer domains. The PageRank of the referring page has been very important since Google’s early days and still remains an important factor today.
These are just a few of the many factors that can impact your Google ranking, and being mobile-friendly has gained significant importance in recent years. Contact us today to find out if your pages meet Google’s mobile-indexing guidelines.