To say that 2020 has been a turbulent year is an understatement, but what that means in the world of SEO and search leaves a lot to think about.
During 2019 before we knew what Covid-19, Coronavirus and Furlough even meant, mobile device usage had been steadily increasing each year. But in 2020, for the first year in ten years of mobile device usage continually growing, usage actually dropped.
Looking at data collated from Statcounter Global Stats highlights this further.
Desktop Vs Mobile Market Share Worldwide from Jan 2009 – Dec 2020.
Mobile usage has been increasing year on year, whilst desktop usage decreasing over the last 10 years, however, it is noticeable that during 2020 desktop usage has gone back up ever so slightly whilst mobile marginally dropping back down. Has the global pandemic changed this pattern of desktop Vs Mobile usage?
I believe, that previously people were using mobile devices whilst at work, to quickly search for information, using their own devices rather than office/work equipment. Using devices whilst commuting to a place of work whilst on the train and on public transport. As well as using their mobile devices whilst out, to search for restaurants and places to eat and local information.
Whereas since the Coronavirus pandemic has hit the world, I wonder if the slight decline in mobile usage and slight increase in desktop usage in 2020 is due to more people working from home or just being at home and having the ability to search and use the once in decline desktop device instead of their mobile device.
I feel that once things return to normal again and we hopefully see the back of the coronavirus pandemic, we may well see the incline of mobile usage once again.
However the global pandemic pans out, you can not ignore the nearly 50/50 split between traffic on a desktop and on a mobile device. Many people still think about websites as primarily for desktop and give mobile a second thought but when half your traffic could be viewing your site on a mobile phone, it’s as important as ever to optimise for both.
How can I tell if my website is mobile friendly?
Google has a really great tool that can give you a really simple top line answer as to whether your website is mobile friendly or not https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly
We’ve all been there, trying to view a website via a mobile phone that’s not optimised for mobile. Either by loading far too slowly, or being unable to read the text without constant zooming in and out, not to mention buttons you just can’t click using the touch of your fingers.
What makes a website well optimised for mobile?
- Text is large enough and clear enough to read.
- Buttons are big enough to press with a finger.
- You can easily swipe or slide to navigate content.
- Fast page load times via mobile connection. (i.e via 3G or 4G and not on WiFi)
Why is being mobile friendly important?
In 2016, Google announced that most people were using mobile devices when searching via Google, yet Googles ranking systems were looking at the desktop versions of webpages to evaluate their relevance to its users. This was seen as particularly problematic when the content or experience often differed from mobile to desktop.
Google began experimenting with using the mobile version of a website as the primary version within its ranking algorithms and suggested that they would be testing this scenario to roll out for future use and become a ‘mobile first‘ ranked search engine.
Back then in 2016, Google said that if you used a responsive or dynamic website with similar content on both mobile and desktop the mobile first indexing would have little to no effect on your existing rankings.
However, if the content you serve to a mobile version is widely different to that served on a desktop version, you may have issues with a mobile first indexing strategy.
Fast forward 5 years and Google later announced that they would switch to mobile first indexing in September 2020. However, due to the global pandemic, they have rolled this back to March 2021 to give website owners a little bit more time to become mobile friendly. Google says they will be finally switching over to a mobile first indexing algorithm 5 years after they first announced the idea.
Mobile-first indexing has been an ongoing effort of Google for several years.
We’ve enabled mobile-first indexing for most currently crawled sites, and enabled it by default for all the new sites.
Our initial plan was to enable mobile-first indexing for all sites in Search in September 2020.
We realise that in these uncertain times, it’s not always easy to focus on work as otherwise, so we’ve decided to extend the timeframe to the end of March 2021. At that time, we’re planning on switching our indexing over to mobile-first indexing.https://developers.google.com/search/blog/2020/07/prepare-for-mobile-first-indexing-with
Conclusion – In anywhere between 2-4 weeks times, Google will be changing its algorithm to rank websites on both desktop and mobile by the mobile version of a website.
If your website doesn’t perform as well on mobile as it does on desktop, you might see declines in ranking performance and traffic from Organic sources.
If you’re concerned about your SEO and how your website might be affected by Mobile First Indexing, please do feel free to get in touch for a chat.