The mecca for search marketers are the SMX conferences where they find sessions and training workshops covering all things SEO and SEM related. At the June 2017 SMX Advanced conference held in Seattle, Google’s presentation did not disappoint search marketing gurus.
Google’s Mobile-first Index
The Google presentation included the latest goings-on regarding their Mobile-first Index. Here are a few important summary points:
- The switch to Mobile-first Index could take as many as four to five years to completion but is expected to start rolling out in 2018.
- A responsive website is preferred by Google within their Mobile-first Index. If your website content is only for the desktop, you would still get indexed but how well you get ranked after the Mobile-first complete launch is another story.
- Google is reconfiguring all their page speed metrics to be Mobile-first so we can expect many updates are forthcoming.
- Google said that anything longer than a 5 second load time for mobile is too long and you will need to improve site speed to have your website rank well within the new Mobile-first Index.
- A new mobile testing tool is under consideration that would allow site owners to see what would change on their site once the Mobile-first Index is launched.
- The Link Graph is not working well for mobile so Google said they continue to work on it to see what they can do to make PageRank effectively work on the Mobile Web.
Concentration on a Better User Experience
There were some other important takeaways but all of them, in the end, were to benefit the end user with a better experience:
- At Google’s May 2017 keynote, AI-First was the theme but, at SMX Seattle, there were no plans mentioned for machine learning updates coming any time soon but Google Voice Search Analytics is underway.
- While there is no exact word count qualifier, websites with word counts of 1536 words or more, rank no.1 and 2 on Google.
- If you’re in Ecommerce, you need to optimize your conversion process to be 3 clicks or less for a better user experience
- User engagement is still the measuring stick for Google to see how well their algorithms are performing.
- Google made a whopping 1,623 algorithmic changes to their index in this past year alone.
- Well known SEO consultant, David Mihm, said that when many people get the online conversation about you going, it is most favorable for establishing a strong Local Ranking Factor within Google’s local search algorithm.
- Google has no plans to add a new meta tag (allowing publishers to control whether or not their content would be shown) to Featured Snippets and no plans for Featured Snippet Analytics.
- Removing old, outdated content that has no traffic might give you a ranking boost. Disney gave a convincing case study to prove this.
- Google still frowns upon buying links and is going after the big sites selling them such as Forbes and Entrepreneur Magazine. They say not to purchase links as it considers the practice of buying links a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
- Google will not penalize you if you hide content for a better user experience (UX). Examples include the “read more” and “more” links on your site.
- Google has a clear focus on Progressive Web Apps (PWA) for providing a better user experience.
Though Google’s process to Mobile-first Index completion is a complicated one, there is no time like the present to be prepared for the effects it will have on your website rankings.