Years ago, forecasters said every task would eventually be done on smartphones. That prediction is quickly coming to fruition with mobile search overtaking desktop as America's favorite online tool.

What Is Mobile First Search?

For almost a decade, SEO specialists have been trying to decipher Google's vague release of information about mobile search (also called mobile first search). Now that the search engines' algorithms have been updated, does your company know what to do to take advantage of mobile-first search? Well, don't feel bad if you don't. Amid all the premature media leaks and sudden reversal of directives, mobile first search is exactly what it says it is. Google will look for answers to a user's query in the Mobile Directory first. Thus, most SERP pages will be filled with results from mobile friendly websites.

Mobile First FAQ

Why Mobile First?

Whether you are a startup business looking for a new website or an established business looking for a facelift, chances are you need a digital face for your company. By designing or redesigning for Mobile First Search, you are telling the search engines that you want to be "In Play" for your share of the billions of searches per day. 

Is a responsive website design good enough for Mobile First?

Google has been testing rolling out Mobile First Search for years. Currently, if you have a responsive website design with good optimized content, you probably have what you need for now. However, expect mobile search and eventually voice search to be increasingly competitive. So, your mobile pages will need to be easy to navigate and must load fast. 

How do you know what users are searching for?

There are dozens of free tools that allow you to do basic keyword research to determine what the potential traffic is like for a given search query. Google has a webmaster program called Google Trends that shows consumer interest in key phrases by regions and subregions of the country.

What percent of internet searches are done on Google?

Although competitive seach engines always claim to be making up ground on Google, the search engine giant dominates year after year with a 65% to 70% market share. Second place in the worldwide search game goes to Baidu, which is China's major search engine.

How do I know what should and should not be on my mobile site?

By taking a mobile first design approach, you will be concious of space. That way you'll be thinking about what really needs to be included rather than simply filling in white space. Mobile users want search to be fast with easy to navigate screens.

Optimizing for Mobile First
Google recently made the switch to the Mobile First Index and mobile search has overtaken desktop. If you're not designing for responsive with emphasis on mobile first indexing, you're not designing for success.

Optimizing Content for the Mobile First Index

Let's start by emphasizing that Google's intent is to deliver a true Mobile First Search, and not a mobile only search result. This means the algorithms will initially crawl the mobile version of your website in response to a user's query. A cached version of these pages will be used for mobile first indexing and to determine the SERP rank for both your mobile and desktop versions. If no mobile version exists, the search engine will crawl the desktop version. If your existing site has a good responsive design and you've optimized for both versions, you may not need to make any significant changes at this time.

Google only uses one index and today's index is the same one that was already being used for organic search. The most recent updates merely changed how content is added to the existing index. No timeline or completion date has been issued, but the end goal is to have an index based predominantly on crawling your website's mobile content. It does not mean your desktop-heavy index will be lost; it does mean that mobile version factors like page speed, load time, ease of navigation, etc. will become increasingly important. Google did recently reverse its position on pop-up and hidden content to allow for a cleaner mobile design.

0% plus
of search queries now come from mobile
of mobile phone users discovered a new product on their phone
of mobile site visitors visit stores within one day.
The Era of Voice Search
"Siri, should I be optimizing for Voice Search?" YES! 43% of mobile search users do so because they say that it is quicker, and you can expect that number to continue to grow. Now is the time to get a leg up on your competition and begin building towards a voice-search friendly website.

Is It Time to Optimize for Voice Search?

Whether this is the "year of voice search" remains to be seen, but don't expect any advanced technologies to go away. It is already obvious that mobile first indexing and hands-free voice search are here to stay, so you need to:

  • Create robust content that answers user questions
  • Think in terms of long-tail keyword phrases
  • Optimize content for latent semantic indexing
  • Build rich snippets that support voice search
  • Implement latest technologies for speed and load time
  • Include the same structured data markup used for mobile

According to a researcher at Baidu (China's search engine), "In 5 years time at least 50% of all searches are going to be either through image recognition or speech." Moreover, about half of all smartphone users surveyed today say they have used voice search on their phone.

Voice search is on every digital marketer's mind and voice-assisted search devices are no longer limited to your cell phone or computer. In fact, most of the major players have already released standalone devices. Google, Amazon and Apple have been proactive in creating voice-operated environments that can integrate multiple devices to run your home while providing an easy access to the digital marketplace for new-age shopping experience. Since marketers across every platform are eager to make voice search fit their needs, you can expect voice search to continue to evolve at an extremely rapid rate.

of people admit they use Siri at least daily
of mobile voice search users do so because they say they don't like typing on their mobile
of mobile voice searchers do so because it is quicker than going on a website or using an app
  1. "The Ultimate List of Marketing Statistics for 2018" HubSpot, 2018. https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics