What Google’s mobile indexing announcement means for marketers

(c)iStock/Erik Khalitov

An announcement at the most recent PubCon from Google research analyst Gary Illyes place the cat among the pigeons.

The news that the search giant is currently shifting its approach to results accessed via mobile, has created the concern of ‘class surfing’.

From a search engine optimization standpoint, when introduced, this will surely create disruption.

When Google announced they worked on a separate indicator, many thought that we would end up with two indicators. The surprise in this statement is that there will be a mobile index that will be utilized for both desktop and questions.

Overall, the main thing to Think about is that this is a ‘known unknown’

Previously, some manufacturers could have prioritised desktop development and optimisation before mobile, for their internet presence. They may have decided to provide versions of their pages on mobile devices, because page speed is so precious.

Of course, this choice was sound when cellular was very much the ‘second display’, when it comes to prequalifying search results for prospective in-depth investigation, but increasingly mobile is becoming people’s first port of call. This will further cement a dominance when the new index rolls outside.

Companies are going to have to make a decision if they would like to switch to a experience.

This switch would make sense — the role of smartphones in people’s lives is well documented, and over half of Google’s searches are made on mobile devices. It might mean as sites tend to be smaller and detailed in structure some choices are coming however.

As ever when introduced to the way Google works, with any change there will be advantages and premature adoption opportunities for sites that are strong in this area.

‘Cunard line’

Personally, I would recommend brands adopt a similar approach to the Cunard Line and also to err on the side of caution.

Back at a time when lots of ships sunk, Cunard would ever adopt inventions once they had been proven. Passenger security was not compromised and they could grow market share because they had an excellent reputation for reliability and security.

Google suggests algorithm changes or shifts, it’s important to maintain a cool head, and see how the land is located before ripping your digital approaches and starting afresh.

From a search perspective, I would anticipate some form of disruption, since advertisers with a poor cellular experience may see a fall in commercial traffic from searches following the change.

Consequently, they might need to raise spend levels, at least in the short term, to keep position. Greater competition for a limited number of searches is in turn likely to push CPC’s up.

Larger brands to benefit

Once released, this shift can also benefit those companies manufacturers, who will have invested in mobile features like accelerated pages that are cellular and app indexing.

But hurrying to the net programmer and requiring more content that is mobile-first would be placing the cart before the horse. The main aspect is that this is a ‘known unknown’.

Typically information will become available closer to launch. We know they’ve been testing this for over a year, and it could be a while before they decide to update the indicator.

Educate and Google will need to inform a number of communities and I consider the statement as a good first step on a journey.

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