Google recently announced that its mobile index will become its main index in the coming months. This should come as no surprise after Google launched its mobile revolution in its latest updates. With over 50% of Google searches being conducted from smartphones, Google’s desktop index is no longer an accurate measure of the state of play. “Mobile First” is set to become even more important.
Up until now, Google prioritized a website’s desktop version when evaluating a domain – which was of course frequently different to the mobile page. This lead to misleading search results, particularly in mobile search. Hardly a good situation to be in for a search engine. Given this background, it’s only logical that the mobile index should become Google’s principal index.
Of course, mobile optimization has been an important ranking factor for a number of years already. Now however, mobile is set to become Google’s primary measure when ranking a website – and the effects will be felt in desktop rankings too. Mobile SEO is no longer an option. If you want to avoid a drop in rankings, you have no choice but to optimize for mobile.
So how will the increased importance of Mobile First affect your content marketing? It’s a question which hasn’t yet been answered within the online marketing industry, so let’s get to the bottom of it.
Mobile SEO in Content Marketing
Google’s new mobile primary index is not just relevant from an SEO point of view but, in my opinion, is going to have a major effect on the development of mobile content marketing too. Webmasters who have already implemented responsive design or who use dynamic serving are safe. If you are using a mobile domain, make doubly sure that:
- your robots.txt allows the mobile site to be crawled,
- the mobile site has been registered in the search console,
- the structural details are intact and identical,
- Google can associate a mobile site with its respective desktop site, and that
- SEO relevant content is available on the page.
Mobile domains are essentially not a problem from an SEO point of view. But webmasters who only offer part of their content for mobile are likely to lose relevant desktop keywords and rankings over the next few months.
This might sound overly-dramatic but think of it as an opportunity. It’s safe to assume that the online value index (OVI) of a fully optimized mobile page levels out significantly higher than a desktop OVI. Given that many internet pages are still not properly adapted for smartphones, you still have a chance to get ahead of the competition with some good mobile SEO.
From a content marketing perspective, responsive design and dynamic serving are your best options – for two reasons:
- 1. Mobile and non-mobile pages should contain the same content. Not only is this important for your Google ranking, but it also guarantees that mobile users benefit just as much as desktop users and helps to integrate them more closely into the lead-nurturing process.
- 2. Given the current trend towards automated marketing, mobile domains can be problematic. The additional steps involved in integrating a domain into a Marketing Automation Platform (MAP) such as HubSpot is not only time-consuming but also leads to a fragmentation of data collected via landing pages. This data provides the basis of automated lead management and should be as unfragmented as possible.
The mobile revolution isn’t just important in an SEO or MAP sense. It gets to the heart of the matter too: the content.
Smartphones are at the centre of digital consumption and they are set to change the content marketing universe for good in the next few years, from planning to production to distribution. Whilst quality is as important as ever, the expectations of mobile users are not always the same.
Functionality is the alpha and omega of mobile content marketing. Smartphone screens are relatively small and presentation options are therefore limited. My suggestion is to present your content in small doses. “Bite-size content” – the new paradigm in content marketing. Here are a few basic tips:
- “Form follows function.” Guarantee mobile functionality with a neat, clear design.
- Go for clear lines, simple forms and clear contrasts. Avoid small motifs and unclear photos and images.
- Adjust text layout accordingly. Use an appropriate font size and sensible spacing. Use legible fonts!
- Good headlines are even more important! Preview areas are incredibly small on smartphone screens so the importance of an enticing headline should not be underestimated.
- Keep your teaser as short and concise as possible. Sometimes, even two sentences can take up the entire display.
- Structure, structure, structure! Paragraphs, lists and bullet points are all vital tools to make mobile content more reader-friendly.
- Make your content easy to consume. Extras such as videos, gifs, picture galleries and info boxes can break text up and make content easier to consume.
At the same time, it’s vital to ensure that the structure and content layout of a piece allows for the implementation of the measures mentioned above. The mobile optimization process should begin at the same time as editorial planning!
Apart from the actual content itself, there are a whole range of other content marketing elements which need to be taken into account when designing content for consumption on smartphones, including CTA elements, landing pages and forms.
In mobile optimization, functionality means that all elements must be easily accessible and clickable with a touch of the finger. Buttons which are too small or too close together on poorly designed landing pages are frustrating for the user and lead to lower conversion rates. I cannot stress enough how important it is that your mobile page is easy to use, and it’s worth spending time over.
Conclusion: Mobile First in Content Marketing
Google’s new main index doesn’t simply demand a dedicated mobile first SEO strategy but also an appropriate mobile content marketing strategy. In this article, we have seen the importance of two particular elements: a) offering both smartphone users and Google the same content and b) guaranteeing high usability.
It seems to me that the complexity of content marketing strategies is only going to increase in the face of increasingly more varied search intentions. In contrast to the search intention behind desktop search, mobile search is open to any number of vagaries which all need to be taken into account when developing a content marketing strategy. Mobile users need spontaneous solutions to regional problems. This means offering specific content tailored to relevant products and services.
The question is therefore not just how content can be adapted to mobile devices but rather how the mobile revolution will influence your content marketing strategy as a whole.