It is a new year, and you may be making your New Year’s resolutions. Don’t neglect your website. Now is a good time to look to the future and make sure that your SEO strategy keeps you ahead of Google’s next update. Search patterns are changing, and Google is trying to keep itself relevant. Soon, search results will prioritize mobile search results due to the number of searches on a mobile device.
The long-awaited mobile first update to Google has still yet to occur, and it is not too late to be prepared for upcoming changes to Google’s search algorithm. There are three areas where Google has been advising website owners through their blog and at conferences. If you focus on these areas, you will be well prepared for the upcoming changes.
Over half of all searches are performed on a mobile device. Because of this fact, it is important to make sure that your website is mobile friendly. When the new update rolls out, websites that are not mobile friendly will have lower rankings, making it important to have a responsive website or a mobile website. Google prefers a responsive website.
Another important factor for a mobile first website is to be mindful of load time. People on a mobile device have less patience to wait on website to load. Your can help reduce load time by using smaller and less images as well as keeping the number of scripts to a minimum.
In addition, you can look at caching your site through a service such as Cloudfare, or if you have a Wordpress site, there are a variety of plugins that will also allow you to cache the site. Doing this will helps by using cached scripts and images to make the site load faster.
Why is Google concerned with load time? Mobile users are impatient. Studies have shown that people will leave the site if takes longer than 3-5 seconds to load. Making sure that you site loads fast on a phone is important to keep your audience engaged, or you could possibly loose them to another site that does load faster.
When searching on a mobile device, many of the searches have a local intent. To help make sure that you are ready for local searches, there are a few things that you can do:
- Use Structured Data and Rich Snippets
- Have a Map Location – Both on Your Site as well as on Google Maps.
- Use Local Area Keywords in Your Content
- Have a Local Profile on Google, Yelp and other Local Directories
- Have Directions to Your Location on Your Contact Page
Google knows that searchers are wanting local results, and the results page has been changing to reflect local data. This change will continue. In fact, rich snippets are showing up in boxes before the organics results or ads.
Be User Minded
While this step has elements in the two mentioned above, it is important to think of it on its own. The user experience should be simple. Keep your website design easy to use. In the past, people favored fancy designs with bells and whistles. Now, it has shifted to a minimalist approach that can be used on a variety of devices.
Your site doesn’t have to be plain or an old table-based site, but leaving out a lot of flash elements and scripts like scrolling text or animated gifs is a best practice. Instead imbed videos that use latest coding standards or use CSS to enhance your site.
While Google has yet to roll out its next update, making sure that you follow these steps will help you get ahead of the curve so you don’t have to play catch up when it does.