Google Paid & Search

Google's Mobile First Update (2018): What you and your business need to know. [GUIDE]

Mobile SEO is more important than ever, but what is it and how does it apply to your business?

What is mobile SEO?

Mobile search engine optimisation, is the optimisation of a website for use on a smartphone or tablet. Most of the factors affecting mobile SEO can then be separated into three main groups: user experience, technical optimisation and content. 

A more simple explanation? The purpose of Mobile SEO is to make your website is easy to use and view on a mobile device, and that it loads quickly even when using mobile data (3g or 4g).

As a user you don’t want to have to scroll left and right to view all of the content on a page, and having to zoom in to be able to read something can be just as frustrating. You also want to avoid difficult to use buttons that are too small, or too near to other buttons. 

The aim is to make a website that is as easy to use as possible, in the hope that users won't get frustrated while navigating through the site.

An easy way to picture this is to think of your website design and content as a liquid rather than a solid. It should be able to flow and fit any container size (or in this case screen size!) rather than being a solid object made to fit one specific container:





What’s changed, why is it so important now?

There are two reasons; user search habits, and Google's choice of how to handle searching and indexing as a result of those habits.

Mobile device usage has been steadily increasing for the last decade, and according to independent web analytics company StatCounter, internet usage by mobile and tablet devices exceeded desktop for the first time in 2016. According to another report, in 2018, 52.2% of all website traffic was generated through mobile phones. 

So more people are using mobile devices to access the internet than ever before, and that number is steadily increasing....but it's not just about search habits.

Google says that a massive 61% of users are unlikely to return to a website if they had trouble accessing it. What makes that even worse is that 40% will visit a competitor’s website instead.

So all of this additional mobile traffic could be lost without the right optimisation, and your competition could benefit instead.

Google responded to this trend of increased mobile traffic by releasing it’s first mobile-friendly update back in 2015.


This update penalised websites that weren’t mobile friendly, but only for searches performed on smartphones. 

No big deal if your audience is mainly using a desktop computer or tablet right? Unfortunately, no.

While that may have been true then, Google’s announcement of it’s ‘Mobile-First’ index in November 2016 has completed changed the future of SEO. Moreover, as of February of 2018 we know that the switch over to Mobile-First has begun:

What makes this even more significant is Google holds over 90% of the market share for searches carried out on mobile devices.



What does this mean for me?

Let’s look at what Google have said:

Although our search index will continue to be a single index of websites and apps, our algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site

This means that if your website is optimised well for mobile devices, you’ll rank well for searches performed on any device. Those that aren’t will likely struggle to compete, especially for those prime spots on the first page.

There are also lots of recognised benefits to mobile optimisation outside of ranking well. Mobile search is no longer limited to those on the move, with 77% of mobile searches occuring at home or work. Mobile searches also often trigger valuable follow-up actions. With 75% of searches resulting in:

  • More research
  • Visiting a website
  • Sharing information
  • Visiting a physical location
  • Making a purchase
  • Calling the business

Mobile searching is taking over. It generates genuine interest, action and revenue and that stats prove it…..but you can’t benefit from it if your website isn’t optimised to make the most it.



So what’s the solution?

Here’s the good news, there are some surefire ways to get your site optimised for mobile devices, and they fall into 5 main groups:

Responsive Design

A responsive design allows the layout and content of a page to adapt to the dimensions of the device being used. You know it doesn’t matter what  device an individual is using, the website will have a consistent look and feel. The same information is available, and it has the same functionality.

You avoid headaches associated with having a separate mobile version of your website such as redirects, different URLS and a range of other SEO problems. Oh and Google recommends it, so there’s that too.

User friendly & easy to read

Websites that have been optimised well for mobile devices, tend to easy to read and very user friendly. 

The nature of those devices (small screens!) forces content to be clean, clear and concise, and encourages the use of simple navigation tools and Calls to action, that avoid any frustration for the user.

These factors tend to lead to lower bounce rates, increased session duration and a higher conversion rate, even if that conversion eventually occurs in person, over the phone or via a desktop computer.

Mobile sitespeed

Page speed has been a part of Google’s ranking algorithm since 2009 ( but this factor was focused on desktop searches. 

However, things are changing this year. As of 2018, this is going to apply to mobile searches too. 

Site speed has a direct correlation with both how well you rank and the likelyhood (likelihood) that mobile users will stay on your site. If a website takes longer than 3 seconds to load, more than 53% of users will simply close the tab.

Schema - Detailed information on search results

Schema or structured data, allows you to add information to search results to make them standout. This includes elements such as review stars, video snippets, links to social profiles and more.

All of these things increase organic click through rate, something that effects where you're page ranks. 

Additional Factors - Social/Local

Social engagements provide a ranking boost for a website regardless of what device they come from. However, it’s worth taking note that mobile devices are used for nearly 80% of all social media time.


The bottom line on Mobile SEO.

Mobile optimisation and a mobile-first experience is now vital. 

Website owners can no longer afford to go without when it comes to Mobile SEO. This isn’t a ranking factor that you need to plan for in the future, it’s something that is happening now.

Your website needs to provide that ‘mobile-first’ experience as soon as possible.

If you want more information on how you can achieve this, or to find out more about how Dreamscape could help, contact us today and our team of experts will be happy to help.


Adam Draper

Adam Draper

Head of Marketing