google mobile search

Google Demote Desktop Search

So you have gone to all that trouble of creating the perfect desktop site, and sure, your website looks OK on mobile, but that’s a secondary consideration really. However with Google’s latest news you have to rethink and put mobile first. Here’s the three reasons why Mobile is the best platform to create your website for.

Mobile First Design.
Google announced a while back that it was adopting a “mobile first” attitude, meaning that sites with a primarily mobile design would benefit from their search algorithm as well as urging developers to create sites for mobiles and tablets AND THEN look at the desktop environment. This was wise words from the big G, because the restricted development real-estate makes you economical with the elements you put on the page. Hopefully making you cut to the chase and not having loads of waffle, buttons, sliders and all that nonsense (sliders ARE nonsense and I’ll go ten rounds with anyone saying otherwise). So it is wise to begin your design for a mobile device and then have the desktop reflect the same user experience.

Mobile Marketplace
As the switch to mobile increases and Google report that since May 2015 50%+ of searches occur on a mobile platform, that trend has taken hold and grown and as I write 60%+ of searches are now performed on Mobile. That means that users are primarily using their mobile devices. Shopping and ecommerce are also being shaped by the mobile device with more and more shoppers starting their journey on mobile and transferring to desktop or just plain ol’ shopping for everything on their mobile. The data we have seen would suggest that there are higher conversion rates on Desktop vs Mobile but it is just a matter of time before the mobile marketplace takes over the desktop.

Mobile Becomes Primary Search
One of the final nails in the desktop coffin is the announcement on the 13th October 2016 that Google intend to make their mobile index the primary search index. They have stated that within months the Google search will be updated more regularly on the Mobile search index than Desktop search index. It raises a lot of questions of course and as of yet there are few details, so it is unclear how the mobile index will fully integrate with the desktop search. If the mobile index is the “primary” search index, will desktop queries really now use it? Will the Mobile index ONLY contain “mobile-friendly” content? How out-of-date will the desktop index be? Desktop search may be a smaller percentage of Google queries but it still generates massive usage so the lag or difference can’t be massive otherwise they will loose search share to Bing and Apple.

We can see what the idea behind this move is, as currently Google use Desktop as primary search and that determines to an extent the mobile search results, by uncoupling these two search indexes Google has paved the way for entirely different search results on mobile and desktop. Why would they do that? Proximity search, for location based searching will no-doubt become more accurate, as well as rewarding sites that have outstanding mobile interfaces.

We’re sure this will roll out over the coming months so watch your stats, specifically the mobile and desktop KPIs, because when this hits you could find that your site slowly loses search rank and traffic volume as it gracefully slides out the mobile ranks if it is a poor mobile experience.

So here’s the top tech tip, we would suggest you do a site audit, check all your data and have it reviewed. See how mobile is impacting your business and how it will likely affect you if you were to lose 50% or more of your search traffic (or however much is coming to your site on Mobile). Next put a plan in place to ensure your mobile site is as up to date as possible, we’d suggest you use AMP, Accelerated Mobile Pages which give excellent visibility for your website.

Ecommerce sites – If you haven’t yet try and shop using your mobile on your website; how easy was it? Can your fingers hit all the buttons/links? Can you see all the products clearly and easily? Would you want to repeat the experience? Is it fiddly, cramped and full of layout issues? Time to get on it and update the user experience ASAP. Also speak to your users, what do they want to see when they visit your site on a mobile? You may be surprised…

Anyway, Mobile is here to stay, embrace it it is only going to become more and more important.

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About Stuart Morrison

Stu Morrison's background in marketing, entertainment and web development has fused him into a guy thirsty for results in marketing. His regular talks on marketing and web conversion help others to gain more revenue from their websites. He also has a big moustache.