2017 is approaching, so what does the future hold for your business online? Nobody can accurately predict everything, but a clear pattern is forming!
1. Mobile Websites: It's no secret that mobile computing has now taken over! If you haven't got a mobile compatible site by now you may as well pack up and go home. Simply because there's a world of business opportunities out there......and you won't be seeing any of it! You are outside looking in!
Walk down the street, go into any bar.....and what do you see? People on smartphones! And they won't be looking at sites that are not mobile compatible. In fact, they may not even be given a choice if they want to see a desktop based site, as Google will be basing rankings on the mobile version as per their recent Mobile First announcement. No mobile version? No ranking!
2. Desktop Websites: These will now have less importance, so do not design a site based purely on what you see on a traditional computer. In fact, some analysts are speculating that we could be entering an era where the clock is now ticking on this technology. Personally, I don't ever forsee a time where traditional sites will become redundant.....but there's no doubt that their importance and relevance are going to keep diminishing as each year passes.
3. Voice Search: Semantic search and user intent based on natural language patterns rather than basic keywords is going to become the norm. Voice-based queries are generally much longer, and phrased in a more natural way, so ensure that your site delivers information in a conversational (but professional) manner. Communicate by giving answers, not sales pitches!
4. Site Loading Times: As more and more usage switches to mobile, don't overload your pages with a large number of resource-heavy material like videos, high resolution images etc. Obviously don't dumb the pages down and make them appear bland to your users, but maintain a balance between form and function.
5. Fast delivery of relevant information: People want info.......and they want it immediately! So ensure that what people initially read on mobile is going to grab their attention. Don't waffle on about things that are irrelevant to their needs or interests.....just get the message across!
So that's the way things seem to be heading! Good practices like quality content, user experience, intuitive navigation, Social Media marketing, and SSL security are still the foundation on which your site is built. But Mobile Rules!
What do I think? Personally, I think the whole world has gone mad! We have now reached a scenario where the majority of people are living their lives vicariously through mobile phones!
I'll take real life any day! The storyline at my age may be a bit monotonous but the visual experiences more than make up for it!
See you in 2017!
Google have announced major changes to the way they index websites! It's now Mobile First!
What this means is that instead of Google using the content of the desktop version for evaluating a website, they will now be visiting the mobile site first. Effectively, the desktop version has been demoted.
We've been into the mobile era for some years now, and if you still don't have a mobile compatible site in place, then you've got a problem. Google have stated that they will still crawl the desktop version, but how high you're going to rank with just that one option remains to be seen.
If you've got a mobile compatible site then you're still not necessarily in the clear. Because if your mobile site was just a barebones "stripped down" version containing limited content.....then that's what will be evaluated and your rankings will drop accordingly. In fact, Google have even said to remove sites like this until they are on a par with the desktop version.
That's a worrying scenario for those people who've paid for a mobile site, because now they're going to find that what they've got is not what Google wants! They'll probably need a new mobile site, which may well entail having to replace the desktop version as well.
However, if you're a WebSpain client you'll know that there's never any need to worry! This will not affect you!
Simply because we've only ever built mobile sites that contain the full content of the desktop version. No difference whatsoever, and it's been that way since we started building mobile compatible sites four years ago. And unlike others, we never charged extra for mobile compatibility, they came that way as standard!
To summarise, businesses without mobile compatible sites have got a problem, and businesses with stripped-down mobile sites have got a problem!
WebSpain clients can just relax, you don't have a problem........because we were ahead of the curve on this years ago!
It seems that the Next Big Thing is on the way.....and it's called AMP! Which stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages!
In Google's words “The Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Project is an open source initiative that embodies the vision that publishers can create mobile optimized content once and have it load instantly everywhere.” Read more HERE!
So what they want is a mobile experience with virtually an instant page load! This is achieved by adhering to a limited set of technical functionality that is defined and governed by the open source AMP specifications. AMP files will then take advantage of various technical and architectural approaches that prioritize speed to provide a faster experience for users. So this is an additional aspect solely relating to mobile devices that potentially could be included with the current web frameworks that we use.
Will AMP affect you? Yes....it'll affect all of us! Because it appears that Google will be putting a heavy emphasis on AMP pages when delivering search results on mobile devices. It doesn't mean that your current mobile compatible site is now obsolete, that's not the case. It just means that if there's an additional AMP version available then you're likely to see a better result on the search listings to reflect your use of the new technology. And obviously your users will get a much better experience while using the site compared to the current mobile format.
This initiative is still in it's infancy, and we're watching closely for further developments and clarification of standards before fully committing to this aspect. As far as we can ascertain at the moment, it's likely to involve the building of AMP pages alongside the existing site structure. But whether this will be backwards compatible to current mobile sites is unclear. If it is, then hopefully we would be able to offer the option of an AMP upgrade to current clients.
This isn't anything you need to think about at the moment, as development of the project is still ongoing. What we're doing here (as always) is keeping you ahead of the curve on forthcoming technical initiatives which will affect you and your business. And I think you know by now.....technology doesn't stand still. So neither can we!
Remember this date: 21st April 2015. Because this is the day where Google search results are going to change forever! They could change for the better for you....or they could change for the worse!
This is the day that Google have now announced will be the launch of their new search engine evaluation algorithm! And it's the one that we've been warning everybody about for 6 months......where Google start dropping non-mobile compatible sites from their listings. For the official announcement just check Google's Webmaster Central Blog.
The announcement is fairly self explanatory on Webmaster Central. It's a huge revision of their system, and there's going to be a lot of sites adversely affected. However, if you have a mobile responsive site then you don't need to do anything, because you have exactly what Google expects to see.
But if you have an older site that isn't mobile responsive, then it seems that your rankings are going to drop quite dramatically. This will bring about a knock-on effect of less visitors, less leads, and less sales. The only way to avoid this scenario is to get a mobile compatible site in place by this date. And then of course you'll get the benefit of the ranking increase.
Why is this happening? As we've stated before, Google wants to provide it's users with the best possible results. And if your site will not display properly on a mobile device, then Google recommending sites of this type is totally at odds with it's stated objective.
Why is mobile viewing so important? Would it surprise you to know that in 2014, internet searches made on mobile devices were actually higher than those on desktop PCs! This had never happened before, and estimates suggest that this pattern is going to keep increasing dramatically year on year. Some have even suggested that it's going to lead to the demise of the desktop PC, except within office locations. Which ironically is the environment that they were originally designed for, prior to the home computer boom in the mid 90's.
So whether we like it or not, this is the age of mobile computing. And if you're not reaching that market with your products or services, it's not a good longterm scenario for any business. The countdown is on, and 21st April is getting closer! If the rankings of a non mobile friendly website start to fall, its probably down to one thing – Google’s latest algorithm update!
Earlier last year we published an article on mobile compatibility reporting that Google had announced they were implementing a system whereby mobile compatible sites would, in principle, be favoured in terms of search engine ranking.
In fact, we actually speculated on how far this would go? Because the direction it was taking seemed to imply that it was only a matter of time before they went from favouring mobile sites, to penalising non-mobile sites that didn't fit it's criteria. Well that time has arrived!
Let me give you the background on this! As part of the comprehensive service we provide to our clients, we register their site with Google WebMaster Central and submit XML sitemaps and page links. This is done for every new site without exception, in fact we've always done it......it's nothing new!
But what is new is that Google is now flagging up a warning message in Webmaster Central for every website that is not mobile compatible. And this is the message that I got this morning......
"Google systems have tested 104 pages from your site and found that 100% of them have critical mobile usability errors. The errors on these 104 pages severely affect how mobile users are able to experience your website. These pages will not be seen as mobile-friendly by Google Search, and will therefore be displayed and ranked appropriately for smartphone users".
So what does this mean to you?
If you have a mobile compatible site then it's great news! Simply because you will be meeting more of Google's suggested criteria on both desktop and mobile. So you've got everything covered.
If you don't have a mobile compatible site then the news isn't so good. Because Google appear to be intending to demote sites based on not having mobile compatibility. To what extent.....nobody knows!
But what does seem fairly certain is that the search results delivered on desktop systems will vary greatly from those delivered on mobile devices.
So even if your positioning on the desktop search isn't impacted to a major extent, you could find that on mobile searches you're nowhere to be seen. Only time will tell how it will affect your site. But bear in mind that desktop usage is declining rapidly, while the mobile sector is the major driving force in internet usage. It's estimated that 40% of users are now favouring these devices, so it could mean that you're not going to be found by this group.
It's been clear for some time that if your site is not delivering it's message to this specific market then you're going to be disadvantaged in comparison with your competitors who may have mobile sites!
But with the latest warning in Webmaster Central, Google now appears to have upped the ante from disadvantaged to invisible!
As with all these Google updates, they are geared towards delivering a better internet experience to it's users. Many of their initiatives have been of great benefit because we finally saw the end of the era where people could cheat their way to the top. It's an even playing field now, so all you need to focus on is delivering quality, unique content and present it in the right way to both the desktop and mobile audience.
Remember that Google virtually control the online experience in many more areas than just online Search.
If you've got an Android smartphone then you're using their Android Operating System. If you have a ChromeBook you're using their Chrome Operating System....and these are now outselling both IPads and Windows laptops, despite Microsoft desperately slashing their prices to try and compete. You may be using GMail and their Chrome browser as well.....I certainly do because these products are excellent compared to previous solutions.
Are Google make or break for your business? Absolutely not! But they do have a major influence, and if they look on you favourably then it certainly helps!
The Internet has changed a lot in the 20+ years I've been online.......many things have come and gone!
But one thing you can be sure of is that mobile internet usage has come......and it's never going!
For mobile compatible websites in Spain, WebSpain have the solution!
Mobile compatibility is critical today, as up to 40% of your site visitors are likely to be using smartphones and tablets. In fact, it is estimated that by the end of 2014 there will be 1.75 billion smartphone users in the world. Google wants to deliver the best results to it's users when they do a search, so they have announced what is essentially a name and shame program for websites with aging technology. These would include websites that are not mobile responsive, and sites that use Flash in their content.
This system is implemented by giving warnings to users that the site they are intending to visit is not suitable for mobile devices. The average user when seeing this warning is just going to go elsewhere.....so Google are making things very difficult for businesses that are still running on old software. If your current site is not mobile responsive and/or uses Flash, you're at a big disadvantage.....because potentially you're going to be losing a lot of traffic. Which means that business opportunities are going to be lost, and your bottom line is going to be affected!
So what is mobile responsive? Basically, a mobile responsive website automatically changes to fit the device you’re using by adapting the view to the size of screen that you have. Typically, there are four general screen sizes that responsive design has been aimed at: the widescreen desktop monitor, the smaller desktop and laptop, the tablet, and the mobile phone. So whatever size screen you're using you get perfect results without having to zoom in and out or scroll from left to right. It makes things easy for the user, and if you make things easy for your potential clients while your competitors don't, then you're in a strong position to drive your business forward.
All of our websites since early 2013 have been built using mobile responsive technology, because we could see the way that things were going to go. Now that Google has implemented this warning system, it's not a situation you can ignore if your business is important to you.
However, there's no need to miss opportunities and lose potential business! Because you could have a modern, mobile compatible site for a lot less than you might think! And the peace of mind that comes from working with WebSpain is priceless!