These pages can appear within the normal Google search results, as well as in distinct content carousels that offer up timely or relevant information. AMP pages are available in a number of popular search categories such as news and recipes, and Google is working on implementing even more.
It’s likely that AMP will continue to play a major role in providing a fast and user-friendly experience as Google continues to push their mobile narrative.
At the time of this writing, AMP is not yet ready or suitable for wide adoption, however, this will likely change as improvements are continually made to the framework and plugins available. So if you haven’t built any AMP pages yet, you still have time to implement them before they become a real game-changer.
Increased Emphasis on Structured Data to Prominently Feature Results
Structured Data will be critical to make your mobile result stand out above the competition. Structured data organizes your mobile site’s data to be more digestible for Google’s crawlers, which could allow your site a higher position in the search results.
With structured data, Google can feature your site in article carousels, rich cards, and other prominent search results. These placements in the results can give you an edge over the competition, as they can make your page visually stand out from the “10 blue links” people are used to seeing.
Optimizing for Longer Title Tags
When a user initially performs a search query, the title tags are the primary element that gets them to click on your site. They are the first thing a user sees when viewing the results of their query, and they can make or break a user’s interest on whether to click it or not. Right now, title tags are slightly longer on mobile SERPs compared to desktop SERPs. It’s possible that title tags will be optimized to 70 characters moving forward instead of the 60-65 we’re used to.
Longer title tags may actually help you with Google’s mobile initiative because they help you show more information about your pages. An extra 5-10 characters may not seem like a lot, but if you use them to enhance your landing page, you can draw customers in with strategic, targeted wording. For certain pages like product listings, the extra characters could be enough to add a “free shipping” label. Mobile users looking to snag a good deal would see that label and be more inclined to click.
Links Will (Likely) Still Play a Major Role
Links are known in the SEO industry as the most significant factor in Google’s ranking algorithms. However, links don’t quite have that star treatment on mobile.
Google has said people link out less often to the mobile version of a URL compared to a desktop version. And since the majority of sites use responsive design these days, the implications of a mobile first index don’t appear to be a game-changer to links and their importance as a ranking factor.
On the other hand, don’t think that links will see a decrease in use with the onset of the mobile first index. Gary Illyes recently said on Twitter that it was hard to rank without links.
He later clarified, saying that external links “translate in some sense to popularity and endorsement by others.” So Google will still look at external links to offer up the best results to mobile users. Without such a filter, users will get less than optimal search results, and Google wants to avoid this outcome at all costs.
Heading into the Google’s Mobile First World
Change is unavoidable in the world of SEO, but you need to have a plan for the mobile first index. To meet the changes head-on and secure a successful SEO future for your site, you need to have the right preparations in order:
- Functional desktop and mobile versions
- Fast page speed
- Structured data
- Strategic title tags
- Healthy, natural links
Google has not said when the mobile first index will fully roll out, but this first “experiment” was released mere weeks after Google announced the mobile and desktop split.
In all likelihood, Google will continue to tweak it until it’s ready, and even then the final version will undergo many changes to refine it and improve it for users.
One thing’s for sure – the mobile first index will bring significant changes with it. Will you be ready when it arrives?
Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author, and not necessarily the views of Web Design and SEO of Carolinas, its staff, or its partners.