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SEO

mobile devices with google mobile first index

What Does Mobile First Index Mean & How Does It Impact Your Website

By | Design, Living Proof Creative, SEO, Web Development

Have you ever whipped out your phone at a restaurant in search of a random fact about a movie, song or book, just to prove that know-it-all friend wrong? Have you ever needed local listings, directions or restaurant recommendations, and instinctively reached for that friendly, glowing rectangle in your pocket?

If you’re a human being in the modern world today, the answer to one, or most likely both questions is probably “yes”. Let’s face it, we are years-deep into the mobile revolution, and there’s no turning back now.

Desktop computers are great. But, of course people are going to use a device that’s by their side 24/7 far more often than a stationary computer screen, or more cumbersome laptop. In fact 3 out of every 5 searches occur on mobile devices now, far surpassing the number of desktop searches. In 2018, mobile has become the new normal.

If you’re in doubt, check out these stats:

infographic “6 mobile industry & site optimization stats”

How, what, and when people search online has changed with the rise of mobile. Images, art, videos & streaming are all impacted, and inevitably shaped by the way people now access the internet.

So, what does that mean for SEO and search engine rankings? How has the mobile-pocalypse affected what shows up on our screens when searching google?

The internet is big, and phones are small (I’m sure you’ve guessed that already). More and more information is added to the internet each day, as phones become more and more ubiquitous. History’s most massive resource of information (i.e. the internet) indexed for an object that fits in the palm of the hand (i.e. your phone) is the next big challenge search engines face.

A “good website” or a high-ranking link on a desktop is not necessarily considered such on mobile. So, Google has flipped the switch and is officially changing its platform to Mobile First Index. This changes the game for anyone who has a website online. It means mobile accessibility is king. It means your website better function on mobile or you’ll be left in the dust.

So, get with the times and meet the new mobile standards with gusto! With big change comes big questions, so here’s some helpful information about Google Mobile First Index.

a mobile devices with google mobile first index

Via: androidguys.com

1. What is Google Mobile First Indexing?

Google became the world’s #1 search engine because the relevance of search results in relation to the user. In the past, googlebots evaluated a website’s relevance based on the desktop version. But, now the majority of their users are searching via mobile, and thus they want the results to cater to this demographic.

Google Mobile First Indexing reflects user trends in hopes to make the web more mobile friendly. From now on, Google will rank the mobile version of your website rather than the desktop version. This applies when searching on both desktop and mobile.

Simply put, if your site is optimized for mobile you will rank well on any computer or mobile device. But if your site is not optimized for mobile your rankings will drop significantly. Google Mobile First Indexing puts well performing mobile sites above well performing desktop sites.

2. How Does a Mobile First Index Affect an Average Website Owner?

Not all websites will have to change due to Mobile First Indexing. There are three website scenarios out there right now. Depending on which one your website is, will determine how Google mobile indexing will affect your website, and what you will need to do to meet the new standards.

• Responsive Sites

There are plenty of mobile responsive sites out there right now. This means the website is designed to function on mobile and desktop. Mobile Responsiveness changes the design of the site to fit the size of the screen. The user experience is entirely different when using a mouse on a large horizontal screen, versus a small vertical touch screen, and good mobile responsive design responds to both.

Now, this is different from “mobile-friendly” design, which means the design is formatted for mobile but remains the same on desktop.

Google encourages mobile responsiveness because it’s the best of both worlds. People won’t stop using desktop computers anytime soon, so when building your website, it’s always best to design for both formats.

For example, Living Proof Creative helped create a full fledged, 360-degree shopping experience for YOLO Board that is completely mobile responsive, as shown below.

desktop computer with yoloboard.com by Living Proof Creative
2 Mobile devices with yoloboard.com optimized for mobile by Living Proof Creative

As you can see on the mobile version, the imagery and font size adjusts for a more visually pleasing experience, as well as a customized category menu. It’s a finely tuned mobile and desktop format.

If your site is mobile responsive, Mobile First Indexing will actually benefit your rankings.

• Separate Mobile and Desktop Sites

This is when a website that has separate URLs for mobile and desktop, also known as an M-DOT site. A good example of this is Facebook. When you search for Facebook on your mobile browser you will notice the URL of the Facebook is m.facebook.com. Before Mobile First Indexing, Google crawled the desktop version, and the website was ranked accordingly. However, with Mobile First Indexing, Google now crawls the mobile version.

For many sites, the mobile version is a stripped-down version of the desktop site. For Google, this can spawn poor search results, as the snippet in the search results may not exist on the the mobile site, resulting in an inaccurate search result.

The comparison below shows how the desktop version of a site contains valuable, rank-worthy content that isn’t included in the mobile version.

screenshots of a home furnishing m-dot desktop site, and mobile version with missing content

Via: Searchenginejournal.com

If your website is an m-dot site, Google recommends that your mobile and desktop versions contain the same content, including text, images (with alt-attributes), and videos. Structured data should be present on both versions of your site. Be sure all the titles and meta data are the same as well.

• No Mobile Site

If you don’t have a mobile version of your website, you’re not alone. There are still a ton of those out there, and Google knows this. Mobile First Indexing won’t write these sites off. The Googlebot will still crawl desktop URLs. However, you won’t receive priority and your rankings will suffer. Mobile First Indexing is just that – mobile first.

A non-mobile friendly sight is very apparent, the moment you see it. Like the example below:

2 Mobile devices, one with a non-mobile friendly site, and one with a mobile optimized site

Via: dentalcmo.com

In order to survive as a online business you must at least be mobile-friendly, preferably mobile responsive. With Mobile First Index, Google is prioritizing websites that look, feel, and function best on mobile.

3. Best Practices for Mobile First Index

Of course the best strategy for Google Mobile First Indexing is to implement mobile responsive design. Create a mobile-first strategy for your website following these best practices.

• Design for Ease of Use on a Mobile Device

Keep it simple! The number one thing to keep in mind when optimizing for mobile is to simplify everything. Remember that users are more likely to view your site using touch screen, so the UX needs to reflect that.

• Make It Fast

Site speed plays a vital role in mobile optimization. More so on mobile devices, users want their information fast. Because of this, Google has now made site speed a factor in Mobile First Indexing. But, we will address that more in depth in the next section of the blog.

• Avoid Interstitial Pop-ups.

No one likes being interrupted, and Google knows this. So, there’s been a crack-down on pop-ups on mobile, also known as intersitals. You want your websites user experience to be distraction-free. Avoid SEO penalties from Google by implementing the call-to-action in a more subtle creative way, in order to keep the leads coming. Like inserting the CTA into relevant content.

Our SEO Team Can Help You Build Leads The Smart Way Without Relying On Distracting POP-UPs.

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Like that.

• Optimize your content for mobile

Content will always be a driving force for your website, and quality meaningful content will have no problem ranking well with Mobile First Indexing. Simply rethink the layout of the articles.

Break up the content into smaller paragraphs, and use pictures and infographics to splice up large, wordy chunks. A balanced combination of written content and visual content will give your users a much better mobile experience.

• Build a Fluid Site Grid

Designing a site grid that is proportionate to whatever screen it’s on, rather than a fixed measurement, is crucial to mobile responsiveness. Phones and handheld devices are getting smaller and smaller, while desktops are getting wider, with increasingly better resolution. Responsive design is not only designing for a smaller screen, it encompasses all varieties of devices. Fluid design works with the strengths and faults of each and every screen dimension and size.

Illustration of a fluid site grid on a smartphone, tablet, laptop and desktop computer

• Implement Flexible Texts and Images

Your website’s fonts and images need to be fluid as well. Be sure your images scale accordingly to the screen size and dimensions. Verify that your images works in both landscape and portrait. Always provide the correct text size for each viewing device, so it is clear and readable.

• Create a User Friendly Mobile Menu

You want your mobile navigation to be short and sweet. Remember to list the important pages first and consider the search navigation as well. Font size and color contrast is key, especially for small screens, so always keep that in mind. And always design the menu for touch.

• Reduce the Need For Text Entry

Use every opportunity to reduce the need to input text. Typing on a mobile device is more difficult, so think of ways to replace the need for typing with a button or list. Mobile users don’t have use of a keyboard or mouse, so find creative alternatives to minimize the challenge of navigating your website.

Mobile device showing a website for Flats on 12, optimized for mobile by Living Proof Creative
Mobile device showing HarrysBoots.com optimized for mobile by Living Proof Creative
Mobile device showing University of Texas Title IX website optimized for mobile by Living Proof Creative

4. Importance of Mobile Speed

A fast website is an all-around useful thing. It reduces bounce rates and encourages conversions. There’s no doubt about it, speed matters.

As mentioned before, speed is another factor Google Mobile First Index will use to rank your website. These days users expect split-second results, and Google realizes this is a real element in making a site successful.

Although speed has been part of Google’s ranking for a while now, the switch to Mobile First Indexing means it will be focusing on mobile speed rather than desktop speed, starting in July 2018.

Accelerated Mobile Pages, or AMP, helps your page load 4x faster and works seamlessly with WordPress to optimize your mobile website speed. AMP is an open-source website publishing tool and is basically a streamlined version of HTML. This “diet-HTML” is lightweight to increase loading speed.

If you’re not sure of your websites speed you can easily check it for free with Google’s PageSpeed Insights. And, if it turns out your website is more sluggish than it should be, Living Proof Creative can help you ramp up the speed.

GET IN TOUCH WITH US FOR A FAST, MOBILE RESPONSIVE WEBSITE.

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5. How to Prepare Your Website for Future Updates?

Google Mobile Indexing has been a long time coming. With the smartphone tech-boom over the last decade, many foresaw the inevitable turn to handheld-device-based searches. So, what’s next?

The web is constantly changing and morphing, shaped by user habits and the rapid rate of technological advancements. So, how do you plan for inevitable future updates?

Keep the users first. Understanding user trends is the safest way to ensure your website is relevant. That’s how Google operates. User demand is the largest determining force for Google Mobile Indexing, and it will be for the next update, and the next one after that.

Many predict a deviation from URLs and a higher emphasis on APIs. Though we are a ways off from a complete app take over, things seem to be trending towards web-app experiences. Apps are more difficult to build and maintain, but they are a customized, user friendly experience with faster load times.

The future of indexing for Google is pretty clear. In order to work between URL, API and all web based entities, artificial intelligence has to be utilized. CEO of Google, Sundar Pichai, even said, “We will move from mobile first to an AI first world.”

For now, having a mobile responsive website filled with relevant content is all you need to have an impactful presence online. But, it’s always good to look ahead. Is your company ready to start planning for the future? Living Proof Creative can help you transition into the dynamic, user engaging world of API development.

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eCommerce Website Checklist: 5 MUST-DO’S

By | Living Proof Creative, SEO, Web Development
News flash: This “internet shopping” thing is here to stay

While it’s obvious that online shopping is an ever-growing juggernaut, that isn’t slowing down anytime soon, some B2C vendors are completely unaware of how competitive the eCommerce market is- in spite of the record breaking number of online transactions across the board, year after year.

Part of this growth is due to users getting more comfortable shopping from their mobile devices. Though not all users expect the same process. Some want to purchase the products as fast as possible, while others are looking for a more thoughtful and considered approach involving detailed, in-depth product descriptions.

If a website fails to enact a buyer’s preferred channel of communication, a great number of conversions can be lost, and the company will cease to exist to a large number of users.

But how do you know what is your audience looking for?

While we can’t read the minds of your buyers, in the following checklist you will find 5 fundamental elements that customers have come to expect from an online shopping experience.

As we move into 2018, the overall level of sophistication that the average online shopper will come to expect from eCommerce transactions will raise significantly. You better be sure your website is ready!

Checklist

#1Be prepared for an increase in the number of mobile users.

Even though your website looks “decent” on a mobile device, you should take a look at your competitor’s website. If their website is loading faster than yours, and provides a better overall user experience – there is a legitimate chance your next potential transaction will end up going with your competitor instead.

In fact, Google claims that 61% of users never return to a website they’ve had trouble accessing, and 40% of those users will reach out to a direct competitor.

But, how many of them actually use mobile devices? A great deal of them! 82% of internet users own a smartphone, and 6 out of 10 searches on Google come from a mobile device.

Prioritizing mobile-responsiveness and presenting a website that loads within 5 seconds or less won’t be a competitive advantage for too long. It is swiftly becoming a necessity.

#2 Make sure your checkout process user friendly.

In order to increase the conversion rate of your website, you will need to address a myriad of ongoing components essential to your online marketing strategy. But the best place to start improving conversions is at the checkout page.

For various reasons, 4 out of 5 shoppers will navigate away from your checkout page without completing their order.

In average, 1 out of 3 users don’t complete their purchases simply because they are having issues navigating through the checkout process. And 6 out of 10 will leave the website the moment they are faced with an unexpected cost. Customers will even abandon a transaction simply because a site uses a different payment system than they’re used too.

That’s quite a leaky funnel, right?

Learning how your users interact with your website, and intelligently guiding their decisions, should be your #1 priority if you want to build relationships and increase sales.

Also remember to follow up with the customers you’ve lost and never stop improving.

#3 SEO brings ROI.

Search Engine Optimization continues to play a vital role in online marketing, and with good reason…

93% of users start their internet journey through a search engine. Almost all of online interactions start on Google, Bing and Yahoo.

But mostly Google, of course.

Google’s advertising revenue accounts for 40% of the internet’s total digital ad spending, and that revenue is larger than the entire print industry in the US.

The most important and valuable thing that Google Analytics and online marketing efforts delivers over traditional marketing methods is transparency in ROI, and a much larger reach to a broader audience.

In average, leads gained through SEO efforts have a 14% closing rate. When compared to your average leads closure of 2%, it is evident why more and more companies are investing in SEO.

Although Google best practices and guidelines are always being updated, they are extremely transparent when those changes are made, and the data gained through following these closely is an indispensable asset for your company’s growth.

#4 Do your product pages actually sell? And how much do they cost you

If you are selling products on your website, there is a high probability users that are looking for your products won’t actually land on your website’s homepage.

Most searches will direct them to the page of the product they are interested in. At this point, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I have a call to action on that page?
  • Are related products accessible from that same page?
  • Does your customer know that you have free shipping options?
  • How high quality are your images?
  • Are all item specifications correct?
  • Am I giving them an option to change quantities?
  • Is the description clear enough?
  • Is that description optimized for search engines?
  • How about the title?
  • Is there an add-to-cart button on each product page?

… this list could go on forever.

Optimizing user experience, and encouraging sales through each one of your assets becomes even more vital as you add more product SKUs to your website.

If efficiency equals profit, having a simple and easy to use content management system should be your priority. Do you know how many legitimate leads are left unattended due to a website’s own inefficiencies?

If you are able to have your content management organized to the point where all your offers are updated, optimized, and captivating in design – you will be able to close 50% more deals without a hitch!

You need a fast and up to date inventory management system, a fully customizable interface, and total control over your assets. Having all of these in place will help you to streamline your sales and nurture more leads to your business.

#5 Don’t Forget to Encourage Relationships.

Ask yourself these questions. All of them have simple answers, and what is even better- all of these answers can be automated!

  • Q: When a user lands on your website, is it clear on how to navigate to the items they are interested in?

A: Your website design should be intuitive, and support your user’s journey throughout.

  • Q: If they want to get in touch, how convenient is it to reach your support or sales team?

A: Your customers should be able to contact you with a simple click of the button. 50% of your buyers will do business with the vendor that responds first.

  • Q: When a legitimate lead decides to leave your website without making any action, do you have a follow up plan in place?

A: You should be tracking all leads that are leaving your website, and have a strategy in place to regain their attention.

On average, 72% of internet users will choose to do business with a vendor who kept the lines of communication open. Not just in terms of customer service, but also with your design, your marketing strategy, your brand image and more.

What makes Living Proof Creative different?

Living Proof Creative is a team of proficient web design, development, marketing and sales experts. We deliver your products and services to your buyers, so you don’t have to rely on multiple companies and solutions for each individual aspect of your web presence.

All the work is done at a single place. Your brand image design, your content needs, your marketing funnels – we take care of it all to ensure your business’s growth.

Plus, isn’t it way more convenient only having to dial one number when you have questions?

We have all the answers.

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What is BLACK HAT SEO?

By | Living Proof Creative, SEO

Digital marketing is not unlike the wild west. It can be a lawless place where bandits roam free, taking advantage of well meaning internet users. That’s why search engines put algorithms in place to penalize anyone who engages in subversive techniques.

In the current digital landscape the terms “black hat” and “white hat” have come to describe two approaches to SEO. Black Hat SEO refers to sneaky or unscrupulous methods used to trick search engines for better rankings. While White Hat SEO is on the side of truth, morals and justice, following the letter of the law when it comes to gaining organic traffic.

BAD BLACK HAT SEO TRICKS THAT WILL BURY YOUR WEBSITE

Here are a few Black Hat SEO tricks only rotten scoundrels use and all good marketers should avoid…

1) Keywords From Nowhere Land

This tactic is dying out for obvious reasons, but still a frequently seen spam strategy, with the main objective to get users to click on a link.

The easiest way to describe this is to share a simple example of a spam title, like:

“Kim Kardashian could really use our weight loss app”

Whether or not she actually needs to use the app, or lose weight at all, is a matter of one’s opinion, but in the digital word – this would be called a clickbait.

Adding irrelevant keywords in vague titles is a total taboo when it comes to user experience and SEO.

The exact same thing applies to social media. Websites and blogs gain traction from their titles, using them to promote certain content, products or services. If the linked title leads the user to irrelevant content, they lose interest almost immediately.

But, with black hat SEO, relevant content doesn’t matter. Click baiting is meant to gain traction for a website and push it higher in search engine results through dishonest means. Black Hat SEO builds shallow domain authority using popular keywords with no substance.

2) Empty & Hollow Link Farms

Have you ever encountered a page that’s just a pile of random links, sometimes with no context at all?

Upon encountering such a page, any normal human would wonder, “What kind of an insane person would build something like this?”. But, if you’re even remotely familiar with Search Engine Optimization, you know this is a tactic as old as SEO itself.

Google really likes backlinks.

When Google crawlers scrape a web page and finds links, they assume the links are relevant to the source material. Google then categorize these pages and websites through their shared connection. The more connections Google finds to a certain website, the better it will show it in results pages.

Of course, in a perfect world, this would work for the benefit of quality search results. But, in the real world, many Black Hat villains have discovered how to build link farms, in order to dominate the most expensive search terms.

Soon enough, Google found out about this practice, and now their algorithm is updated to recognize this type of behavior. Though some sneak through and we are still seeing this practice in place.

3) No Good, False Talkin’ Scoundrels

We all love seeing a new comment on our freshly published blog post. It’s always great to see someone interacting and giving feedback on the topics you actually care about.

So, when you click on that notification to check a new comment by your new favorite or most hated person in the world for the next five minutes, you may encounter something like this:

This is very valuable information, please check this link *URL*

The comment is always left by someone with a random name that sounds fake, with an obvious stock photo of a person bluntly staring with a banal a smile, almost as if saying, “I didn’t actually read this. lol.”

Google does not track links in comments. It used to, but due to item #2 in this list, Google had to sanction this practice. Still, many Black Hats are utilizing this tactic, simply because they are relying on you, and anyone else reading the blog, to click on that link.

So, how can you tell the difference?

It’s not unwarranted for your readers to promote their websites in the comments, but if they want to engage in any valid conversation, the links in the comments need to be relevant to the topic.

If they post a link to their blog on the same topic, they probably aren’t trying to lure people under false pretenses. But, for example: if they post a link to an article about Kim Kardashian’s weight on a post about knitting, you can assume it’s spam and definitely a Black Hat tactic.

Feel free to delete that comment and forget that fake persona. Let the good old sherif Google take care of them.

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