Google's Move Toward Mobile-First

Google will use mobile content to rank as a default in search engine query results, rolling out the new ranking system over the course of a year. Only when a company doesn't have mobile content or a responsive Web site design, Google will consider pulling from desktop content. This means the underlying content that serves up on devices will come from mobile sites.

Search Marketing Daily caught up with search engine optimization (SEO) expert Sastry Rachakonda, CEO of iQuanti, who shared some insights on the shift.

SMD:  How should marketers prepare?

Rachakonda:  The most important point is to make sure to use structured markup data on the pages, so the pages communicate to Google the content on the page. Look at the search queries driving traffic to the Web site and compare it with the page content on the mobile site visitors land on. Make sure the pages are structures to answer the queries to drive the ranking.

SMD:  Will mobile-first indexing prove to be a positive move?

Rachakonda:  Yes, because we as users have gravitated toward using mobile devices. Publishers and brands are not there yet. It's forcing companies to meet consumers and adapt to their behavior.

Sometimes we talk about markets changing consumer behavior, and other times we see a company that pushes the market in a specific direction. Think about when Apple dropped the floppy disc. It shifted the whole industry forward.

What Google is doing won't happen in one swoop, but it will force marketers to focus on the mobile experience, which is where consumers are.

SMD:  Will this force Bing to move in a mobile-first direction?

Rachakonda:  The reality is, consumers are moving more toward using mobile devices, so any company wanting to offer services must take the mobile device into account. It will automatically force other companies to move in that direction or lose traffic.

If I'm going to give you information I must take into account how you will consume the information.

If you are already developing a mobile site but haven't finished it, Google suggests not to launch it. Make sure the mobile experience is good before launching it. 

SMD:  What are the eight ranking factors?

Rachakonda:  There are four major and four minor. Two of the four important factors will now be calculated from a different content (data) mix when Google goes mobile-first. So most likely all the results are going to get affected.

The major factors include:

1)  Quality and quantity of the main content of the page
2)  Expertise/authority/trustworthiness
3)  Reputation of the Web site
4)  Needs met (meaning the intent of the query and the page)

Minor Factors:

1)  Web site information -- whether the site is a real person, company or entity that can be contacted
2)  Quality of supplementary content -- site-level summary of quality of ads on the page, etc.
3)  Page Design – whether it is easy to navigate at the site level
4)  Whether the site is well maintained at the site level, such as broken links, site speed, etc.

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