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2021: The Year to Go Mobile or… Get Out of the Game

March 2021 is the deadline for Google’s mobile-index. Learn what this means for your website and how you can prepare with helpful insights from GPO.

Sixty percent of searches are now performed on a mobile device. Narrow those searches down to the food and beverage category, and the percentage jumps to 72%.

People turn to their phones first and their computers second, making it more important than ever to ensure your brand is present when someone performs a search from their mobile device.

You already have a website, so you’re good, right? Not so fast. After Google’s mobile-index (coming March 2021), having a website won’t cut it. You need a site that’s optimized for mobile and wholly reflective of your desktop site, as Google will be creating and ranking search results based on the mobile version of content, even for listings that are shown to desktop users.

From Google’s mouth to this article: “Content that isn’t mobile-friendly will not rank as well.”

Plus, desktop-only sites will be completely dropped from the index. Images and assets that are on a desktop site will also fall out of Google’s index. Poof. Gone.

What can you do to double-check that your site is ready so you don’t lose traffic and rankings? We’ll get you there. Learn what it means to be mobile-optimized and the overall benefits.

How to “Go Mobile”

Google explicitly recommends responsive web design for new websites, and suggests avoiding using separate mobile URLs (“m-dot”). In their experience, m.dot sites create confusion for searchers and Google crawlers.

If you’re working on an existing site, follow Google’s mobile-first indexing best practices. The guide is dense, but here’s what it boils down to:

  • Make sure your desktop and mobile sites have the same content, structured data, headers, meta robots tags, images, image alt text — everything.
  • Stay laser-focused on technical SEO. That means having robust, error-free structured data, descriptive image alt text, optimized page title and meta descriptions, and unique content on every page — no thin or duplicate content!
  • Prioritize speed. Site speed (and as a result, page speed) IS a ranking factor in Google’s algorithm. It’s also important for a positive user experience. Pages with long load times generally have high bounce rates and negatively impact conversions.

Use PageSpeed Insights to identify ways to make web pages faster on all devices and Test My Site to improve your mobile experience. Before you dive into these tools and get “the development scaries,” know that many speed optimizations are easy. You can compress images, clean up redirects (technical SEO!), and use a cache plugin to take a big bite out of big load times.

We often hear, “Does an improvement of one or two seconds in site speed matter?” Yes. Every second counts when the average Google search session lasts just under a minute.

  • The German branch of Dakine, an outdoor clothing company, cut its home page’s load time by 55%, its category pages by 48%, and its product pages by 65%. Over the next year, they experienced a 31% increase in mobile traffic and a 45% increase in mobile revenue.
  • Telefónica, a private telecom company, improved load times on its mobile site by 70% with Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). As a result, their click-through rate (CTR) improved by 31%.
  • BMW used AMP and Progressive Web Apps (PWA) to improve page speed under all conditions. The result? Nearly 4x more users clicked from BMW.com to a BMW sales site.

The Case for Mobile in 2021

If the mobile-index isn’t a compelling enough reason to make sure mobile is top of mind in your organization — there are other search engines, right?! — then consider these stats:

  • Google captures 95% of the mobile search engine market in the U.S. (Statista)
  • 60% of Google searches are done via mobile devices. Only five years ago, the figure was nearly half that—34%. (Statista)
  • Whereas mobile Google searchers click on an organic result 41% of the time, desktop Google searchers do so 62% of the time. That means you better be present, and you better be at the top of SERP. (Moz)

But also, consider your customer. Mobile searches aren’t plateauing. Mobile traffic has consistently accounted for about half of all global web traffic since 2017, and is anticipated to continue growing. If customers can’t find or engage with your brand on a mobile device, then they’ll go elsewhere. Give them a reason to stay. Get on board with giving your customers the best mobile experience you possibly can. Both Google and your site visitors will reward you.

And if you need help, let us know.

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