Did you know that more than half of the world's internet traffic comes from mobile devices (while 63% of all traffic in US comes from mobile)?
It's not surprising, really. Smartphones and tablets have been part of our daily lives and we use them for everything. Beyond being a communication and entertainment device, we use it for apps and browsing the web.
Google realized this and wanted to make mobile web a much better experience for everyone. In 2016, they announced that they are experimenting with a mobile-first indexing approach.
In a nutshell, their algorithm will utilize the mobile version of a website as first base for determining rankings.
As a website owner, should you be worried? The answer is two-fold.
Yes, because of Google’s prioritization of mobile, you should make sure that your site is optimized for it. The desktop version will be indexed if no mobile-friendly version is found which is good news but Google recommends that you make it a point to keep content on both versions the same.
This impacts E-commerce significantly because website owners will need to adapt to this trend to ensure their customers are having the best possible experience when browsing their site.
Imagine your customer filling in the payment details on the checkout page only to receive a site error upon hitting “Confirm”. Ouch.
So what should you do? Here are the top 6 tips to make sure your site is ready for Google’s new mobile-first approach.
How to optimize your ecommerce website for Mobile-First Indexing:
1. Responsive Web Design vs. Dynamic Serving
Let’s go straight to the point---In terms of efficiency and overall SEO-friendliness, you have to go with Responsive Web Design
It basically means that the website will adapt based on the device it’s used on. No need for dedicated alternate HTML for each device nor separate URLs to render the page layout and content correctly.
The pages will automatically adjust itself for best viewing and navigation no matter what device is being used.
Compared to Dynamic Serving---which utilizes server-side mechanisms to render a mobile-version of your site to users---Responsive Web Design takes the cake out of sheer convenience and easier implementation. Oh, and Google recommends it themselves.
2. User Experience (UX)
There’s something about a well-designed website that makes visitors want to go back.
What key factors contribute to a satisfying website user experience?
Design Performance - What you want to have are web pages that are enhanced for clear and easy consumption via mobile devices. The website’s overall theme should exude the concept or vision of what it’s all about (especially if you want to highlight your products).
Readability - Content should be easily readable without the need to zoom in or out (design your content for skim readers).
Typography - Fonts should have the right size and be appropriate for mobile viewing.
Engagement - Buttons should be placed on the right places and large enough for fingers, use spaces well, fix forms, ensure there’s enough room in between clickable elements, and insert highly relevant internal links to encourage visitors to visiting more of your site’s pages.
3. Site Speed
What’s the use of an epic-looking site if it loads like you’re on a dial-up connection? And with Google themselves confirming it affects rankings, you clearly have to make sure your site loads as quick as possible.
Aside from using Google’s own Mobile Friendly Test, you might want to check and optimize the following items to help get your site up to speed (pun intended):
4. AMP for Ecommerce
AMP or Accelerated Mobile Pages is an open source project backed by Google to create websites that are “consistently fast, beautiful and high-performing across devices and distribution platforms.”
That’s great and all, but great speed comes with a trade-off---you’ll have to make do without your ads and analytics components you have running on your site. Your fancy designs will be reduced to barebones versions with only the essential information intact.
And while people might have differing opinions on AMP’s usage, it’s clear that Google is pushing hard for it which means more website owners will have to adapt some way or another in the future.
Due to the nature of its content, news sites are the ones who can benefit greatly with the use of AMP. For Ecommerce, AMP usage remains an important factor because you have to make sure the shopping experience of your customers are as quick and seamless as possible (even if when dropshipping). The worst thing that could happen is to have them leaving your site not because of lack of choices but because of its laggy performance.
See AMP for Ecommerce.
5. Implement Structured Data
Two words: Rich Snippets. If you don’t know what they are, they are the “thumbnails with descriptions” that appear on Google’s search pages.
They’re dubbed as such because compared to regular snippets, they provide a more click-friendly preview of the content which commands higher click throughs.
What does this have to do with Structured Data? For starters, Rich Snippets can be produced if Structured Data gets implemented correctly. Addition of structured data can be done via Schema.org. Just think about how it will boost your site’s SERP CTR simply because its preview on Google’s search results stands out from the rest.
6. Prepare for Voice Search
This report from Google reveals that 72 percent of the people who own smart speakers use it on a daily basis. The popularity of Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, and Google’s own Home Assistant is proof that we are moving towards a more hands-free approach of interacting with our devices.
What does this mean for mobile ecommerce and what should you do about it?
First, it is important to note that people tend to do their voice-queries in a very natural, spoken fashion. For example, “Her Siri, what’s the weather today?” Compare this to what a person will type into their smartphone to get the same info: “weather today”.
Through this example alone there’s a lot of things you can modify or adjust on the SEO end: More long tail keywords instead of just focusing on the head terms, and making sure your site is optimized for mobile users.