Google’s Mobile-First Indexing Announcement and What it Means for Your Website

This change may affect your rankings in search engine results.

Since most people check out websites on their smartphones or other mobile devices, Google announced that they will be using mobile-first indexing on websites shown in Google search results. What does this mean for your website? This means your website must be responsive to the formatting differences on a desktop versus a smartphone or tablet. Before we get into how your website may be affected, we first must ask the question:

What is mobile-first indexing?

Mobile-first indexing means Google will primarily use the mobile version of your website’s content for indexing and ranking websites. Indexing is the process by which Google and other search engines use keywords and metadata to sort internet search results. Therefore, the mobile version of your website must be formatted correctly for your site to show up in user’s search results.

However, if your website is lacking functionality and is not responsive while in mobile form, Google will not pick up on keywords and phrasing users may be searching for. Therefore, your website will not show up in Google’s search results, or maybe it will, but just not at the top of the list of results where it matters most.

Is my website responsive?

When a website is responsive, it is formatted within the code to adjust to any screen size, whether it be on a desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone. This means that users do not have to zoom in or out on their mobile devices to see the entire web page. When a site is not responsive, it becomes extremely difficult for a viewer to maneuver through the site and its features. For instance, if the website does not fit on a screen properly, it is hard for the user to see all the attributes and clickable links. The user may also have to scroll horizontally to view the entire page; this becomes tedious to the user.

How does mobile-first Indexing affect my website’s search engine optimization?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the organic online visibility of a website or a web page in search engines results. Naturally, Google picks up on content such as keywords and alt-text (used to describe images) and utilizes this information to rank websites in search results. If Google cannot properly read your page’s content or if your site does not have proper SEO formatting, your site virtually does not exist in relevant search results.

You do not need to worry about Google’s mobile-indexing change if your website is any of the following, as there will be no changes to your site’s optimization:

  • Desktop Only – Your site is desktop only and doesn’t have a mobile-friendly version
  • Responsive web design – Your site adjusts for screen size
  • Canonical AMP – All your web pages are created in AMP HTML; if you are unsure, be sure to consult with your website programmer

If your website is any of the following, please work with your web programmer to find the best practices to alter your site for mobile-indexing purposes:

  • Separate URLs – Each desktop URL has an equivalent different URL that serves mobile-optimized content. This site type is also known as an m-dot site. (Google prefers the mobile URL for indexing.
    • It’s important to note that if you have two separate sites for mobile and desktop sites, Google will only use the mobile version of your page for indexing and will miss the content present only in your desktop site.
  • Dynamic serving – Your site serves different content based on the user’s device and users only see one URL. (Google prefers the mobile optimized content for indexing.)
  • AMP and non-AMP – Your site has both AMP and non-AMP versions of a page so users see two different URLs. (Google prefers the mobile version of the non-AMP URL for indexing.)

This may sound confusing to you or like a lot to remember, so let us do the work for you. For a review of your website settings and how to improve upon them for a better search engine ranking, please call us at 1-855-776-4123 or fill out the contact form.

Why Online Opinions Matter

Customer reviews can make or break your business. Have you ever decided against purchasing a product because the reviews were so poor? Or did you ever choose to dine at a new restaurant because the reviews said the food was incredible? Bad reviews can discourage potential customers or clients from buying your products or services. Whereas good reviews can encourage people to do business with your company.

There are multiple ways customers and clients can leave a review for your business such as Google My Business, Amazon and Yelp, just to name a couple of websites. Facebook, Instagram, and other social media websites allow for comments to be made on your business profile pages and posts. It is imperative to educate yourself on all platforms your business is listed in order to keep track of your reviews and comments.

Responding to Customer Reviews

A few negative reviews do not necessarily imply that your business is bad, but how you respond to these comments can alter the way potential new customers view your business. You should always respond to negative reviews in a sympathetic manner. Next, try to take the conversation off this page, that way you can speak about their experience in a more confidential manner. One important thing to remember is to not include any keywords relating to your business, or the business name in your response. Doing so may allow this negative review to rank higher in search results and be listed at the top of a search.

For example: I’m sorry you to hear about your bad experience. We usually pride ourselves on our well-renown customer service, but it seems we fell short of our own expectations. If you would like to discuss this matter further please contact the manager at 123-555-6789.

On the contrary, when responding to positive reviews, say thank you to the customer and let him or her know you appreciate his or her business. Use this response as a marketing tool a reference any promotion currently going on. This time mention the business name and include keywords. This will generate positive SEO and could be one of the first reviews potential customers see.

For example: Thank you so much for your kind words about our home cleaning services. Here at *company name* we appreciate your business. Did you know we are currently offering $15 gift cards to anyone who spends over $75?

Keeping in contact with your customers through online reviews also gives you and other business owners insight into what the customer really wants. It’s important to use this information to continuously improve your business and keep customers satisfied.

If you need further assistance responding to customer reviews, web development or search engine optimization, please call us at 1-855-776-4123 or fill out the contact form.

How Will the Loss of Net Neutrality Affect Small Business?

Net neutrality, a measure imposed by the Obama administration, is the principle that internet service providers (ISPs) must treat all data on the internet the same, and not charge differently by user, content, platform, or application. Under net neutrality all websites had equal access to the internet, and service providers were unable to block, slow down or upcharge specific websites or content – which was great for users of streaming services (like Netflix) and for users of high-data sites (like Amazon).

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) repealed net neutrality in December; the fear now is that internet service providers will begin to discriminate based on bandwidth required, causing popular sites to become slow, forcing those sites to pay more for equal speed, or hindering access altogether.

The repeal has outraged representatives from 21 states, including New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who is leading a lawsuit against the FCC. Continue reading “How Will the Loss of Net Neutrality Affect Small Business?”

Do I Need a New Website?

Websites are essential to many aspects of business today; most importantly, staying in touch with and relevant to your customer base, expanding brand awareness, leveraging greater exposure to potential customers, and utilizing sales through e-commerce.

Businesses without websites, or those that have websites that lack certain stylistic and practical elements, suffer from lack of exposure and brand legitimacy. A website that was created five, or even two or three, years ago may be outdated, especially with the emphasis on mobile browsing and e-commerce, which have greatly changed the online marketplace.

You may need a new website or may be due for updates. Sometimes, even newly designed websites aren’t adequate to meet your business’ goals. Take a moment to review your business’ website. Here’s some factors to consider when deciding whether you need a new website: Continue reading “Do I Need a New Website?”