Mobile Site Speed Google’s Priority for Indexing

Mobile site speed is Google’s priority now for rating sites. The search giant made the move to mobile-first indexing in March, after giving site owners about 18 months to prepare for the switch.

Mobile site speed is Google’s priority now for rating sites. The search giant made the move to mobile-first indexing in March, after giving site owners about 18 months to prepare for the switch.

Savvy site owners did not wait for the mobile site speed change to happen before optimizing to meet this new emphasis. With mobile indexing, Google uses the mobile version of the page for indexing and ranking.

Gone are the days of weak, thin mobile presentations. This gives searchers, who now predominantly use mobile devices, a better user experience. To further benefit this huge user base, Google announced in January in the Webmaster Central Blog that in July of 2018 slow-loading content wouldn’t perform as well for both desktop and mobile searchers.

As the calendar slips over to July, a new study by Searchmetrics shows that site owners have heeded the warnings. The results are in already, and if your site is not speed-ready, you are already being left at the starting line in the race for top rankings.

What Makes a Rankings Winner in the Mobile Indexing Era?

The answer is simple: Speed.

Mobile users want their information delivered instantly, and Google seeks to maximize user satisfaction by ranking the faster pages first in the results. The Searchmetics study clearly shows that the race for rankings is already being won by the fastest sites. Although the study is loaded with useful and interesting insights, the two biggest takeaways are:

  1. For pages ranking in Positions 1 to 5 in the search results, pages load faster with each improvement in ranking position.
  2. Mobile pages ranking in Positions 1 to 5 load faster than those ranking from six to 15.

Site speed is hard to define; and over the years, I have personally had numerous disagreements with site owners on just how fast, or usually slow, their sites are.

In a word, if you are looking at speed as an SEO ranking factor, which it clearly is, employ the tools and methodology that will be used in ranking your site. In my practice, I have used a variety of tools over time. My current favorites are Google Lighthouse and Page Speed Insights. My logic has always been that if Google is measuring my site speed, then let’s see if I can mirror its results so that any improvements are framed in its context.

The Searchmetrics study indicates that pages must load in under 2 seconds. Although the mobile site speed results varied somewhat by industry segment, the rule of thumb coming out of this study is as follows: Forget about making incremental changes. Unless you can come within the 2-second limits, you will not break into the top five. The top five results are faster than six to 15.

What About AMP?

The use of AMP (accelerated mobile pages) is growing. These pages typically mirror the desktop pages. The study found that across all industries, AMP pages were found on the first results pages for three out of five (61%) keywords. AMP is most common in media (87% of keywords), the first adopters.

AMP is also now found on more than half of SERPs in finance, e-commerce and travel. E-commerce pages lag just a tiny bit in speed. This is expected, given the heavy use of scripting needed to present all of the bells and whistles buyers expect to find in a commerce site; however, this is no excuse for not striving to achieve the speed needed for top rankings.

Although speed has only just officially become a ranking factor in July, the race is well underway and winners are already lining up for their rewards.

A Beginner’s Guide to Local SEO for Small Businesses

By the time you finish reading this guide, you’ll have a better understanding of local SEO and how to improve your local search rankings. In this era of smartphones and mobile Internet usage, local SEO may be your greatest ally in expanding your reach online.

Local information is growing in importance when it comes to ranking highly in Google results.Just how critical is local SEO? Every second of the day, more than 40,000 people are making search queries on Google. Many are shopping for goods and services — where to get drinks with coworkers, where to drop off their dry-cleaning or where to pick up a new set of headphones. And half of those consumers who searched using their smartphones became customers of businesses they found online within a single day.

Clearly, ranking high in local search results is vital for small businesses with walk-in customers. And boosting the effectiveness of your local SEO isn’t even that hard! Unfortunately, many small business owners are behind the eight ball. Even business owners who’ve invested in general SEO over the past several years may not be up to speed on optimizing local SEO. Many of the tenants of national and local SEO are the same — you still need great content, a user-friendly website, solid performance and exposure to establish authority in your field — but local SEO requires signals and testimonials that solidify your business as a reputable local asset.

By the time you finish reading this guide, you’ll have a better understanding of local SEO and how to improve your local search rankings. In this era of smartphones and mobile Internet usage, local SEO may be your greatest ally in expanding your reach online.

Start a Google My Business Profile

First things first — create a Google My Business profile for your business.

Your Google My Business profile is the foundation of your local SEO efforts. For starters, you can define exactly how your contact information should ideally appear throughout the Web and social media. Second, a your profile allows your business to be shown on Google Maps, and that alone can bring many customers through your doors.

Google My Business is also associated with online citations and reviews, both of which can heavily influence the success of your local SEO efforts. We’ll go into greater detail on these in the next two sections.

Starting your Google My Business profile is easy. Go to https://www.google.com/business/ and set up an account. You’ll be asked for information about your business such as contact information, hours of operation, available payment options and more. You can even provide pictures and video clips to accompany your listing. Then all you have to do is verify your profile via mail or phone. That’s it. The service is free and ultimately helpful to your bottom line.

Check Your Citations

Citations are one of the most important factors in your local SEO ranking. A citation is any listing of your business name, address and phone number on other webpages or social media pages.

A general rule is more citations leads to a higher local search ranking. Google’s algorithms place even greater weight on citations listed on popular business portals such as Yelp and Angie’s List, so be sure to claim profiles on those sites, too. You can also check out inexpensive services like WhiteSpark and BrightLocal that can help you find sources for new citations.

One thing about citations — it’s critical that your citations exactly match your Google My Business listing. Make sure you keep your name, address, and phone number consistent across every single online citation.

Encourage Your Customers to Write Reviews

Google’s algorithms have evolved over the years to reward websites that provide great user experiences. That’s why positive reviews — both in quality and quantity — are so important for your local SEO efforts.

Positive reviews can be the difference in ranking on the first page or being invisible in the search results, especially in more competitive fields where consumers have more choices. That’s why you should always follow up on good customer experiences by asking for favorable reviews.

The most impactful reviews are those attached to your Google My Business profile. However, reviews on sites such as Yelp are also helpful.

Optimize Your Website for Local SEO

By now, you probably understand the importance of contact information in local SEO. To optimize your website for local SEO, make sure your contact info (again, exactly as it’s listed in Google My Business) is listed on your website. You should also add the city, state and/or zip code of your business to your website’s title tags. Also reference the city and state in your website content wherever it makes sense.