Why Your Brand Needs a Mobile-First Website in 2019

Web design experts and marketing specialists have been championing mobile-first design for years. But in 2019, brands need mobile-first web design more urgently than ever.

 That’s not just because most online traffic now comes from mobile devices. It’s also because companies like Google are transforming their own services to favor mobile-first usage.

Let’s take a deeper look, shall we?

Over the past year, Google has quietly switched to a mobile-first search index. This means that, rather than indexing the desktop version of your page, Google is crawling and indexing the mobile version instead.

To rank well on mobile and desktop devices moving forward, you’ll need a site that’s built for mobile users first. At the same time, Google’s mobile-first index is part of a broader shift to a more mobile-centric web, one in which desktop-first design is increasingly obsolete.

If your website already uses mobile-first design, you don’t need to worry about this change. But if your website has a poorly designed mobile interface — or if it’s primarily designed for desktop usage — this change could tank your search rankings, even on desktop.

What Mobile-First Indexing Means for Your Website

In 2017, mobile traffic on Google exceeded desktop traffic for the first time. This was also the year that Google announced that it would be switching its search index — the database of web pages from which it retrieves search results — to a mobile-first format.

Up to that point, Google’s index was mostly made up of desktop pages. If you had a responsive website, Google would crawl your site in desktop mode and index the desktop version of each page. It would also check if your website was mobile-friendly, which would impact your search rankings on mobile devices. But at its core, Google’s index was built for desktop search. That meant search rankings were primarily based on the desktop version of each page.

Mobile-first indexing is a complete reverse of this dynamic. Instead of crawling your website in desktop mode first, Google will now crawl and index the mobile first of each page. This means the mobile version of your website is the version on which Google’s rankings are based.

This means that when Google calculates search results, it’s looking at the mobile version of your page, not the desktop version. This is true even in desktop search. Even if your website has a great desktop experience, your desktop search rankings could plummet because it isn’t mobile friendly.

How to React to Mobile-First Indexing

As huge as mobile-first indexing sounds, most brands won’t notice much of a change. So long as your website is already mobile-friendly, your rankings should remain stable with the switch to mobile-first indexing.

But if your brand doesn’t already have a mobile-friendly website, now’s the time to upgrade. Likewise, if you operate a separate mobile website, or if you’re making significant changes to your current website, you’ll need to be careful about how you implement these changes.

Below are some quick guidelines and suggestions to help you navigate mobile-first indexing:

  • If you already have mobile-optimized website, make sure that you rate well for page speed and load time. Also, check that images and dynamic content load properly on mobile.
  • If you have separate mobile and desktop websites, on-page content and off-page infrastructure should be consistent across both sites.
  • If you’re launching a new mobile version of your website, do not launch until its 100% ready. Otherwise, the beta version of your site could get indexed, which could tank your Google rankings.
  • If you don’t already have a mobile-friendly website, you’ll need to get one if you want to rank well on Google.

Google’s switch to mobile-first indexing is a big deal for brands on its own. But it’s an even bigger deal in the context of how the web is developing on a wider scale.

Now that most consumers are mobile-first users, more and more of the web will become mobile-first in response. That includes key pieces of digital infrastructure — like Google’s search index — that were originally designed for a desktop-first world.

To learn more about Qiigo’s Website Management solutions, you can learn more here or fill out the form below to speak to one of our digital experts.

Nearly 60% of Search Traffic Now from Mobile Devices

Search Traffic from mobile

Recently, Google announced that mobile search traffic had overtaken desktop search traffic in the United States. Since then, Google has been tight-lipped on how much those number have changed. But two new reports suggest that nearly 6 out of every 10 searches now take place on mobile devices. The battle between desktop and mobile continues to take place.

 

These reports offer key insights and data regarding mobile vs. desktop search. Researchers found that mobile’s shares of search traffic varies significantly across different categories. They also found big discrepancies in the search results that Google returns when searches are made on different types of devices.

 

Smartphones & Tablets Dominating Search

The share of mobile search traffic reported in both studies was remarkably similar. The first report, which measured overall search traffic, found that 57% of searches originated from mobile devices. The second, which measured search traffic across 11 different categories, found that mobile devices accounted for 58% of search traffic on average.

 

Both reports used numbers pulled from analytics software for business, so these figures could be more representative of consumer behavior than overall search traffic. But from a marketing perspective, that actually makes these figures more valuable for brands and businesses.

 

The reports offered other key data points. In the first report, researchers found significant fluctuations in Google search results between mobile and desktop devices.

 

Over 79% of all search results had a different search ranking on different devices. This variance was less pronounced among top results, but still significant. 49% of top-20 search results had their rankings change from one device to another, and 35% of first-ranked pages lost their #1 ranking.

 

In the second report, the percentage of mobile searches varied widely between categories. Food and beverage (72%), health (68%), and sports (68%) had the highest shares of mobile traffic. Out of eleven categories, only three had less than 50% of their traffic from mobile devices: real estate (48%), entertainment (42%), and banking (39%).

 

The variance in percentages was even more extreme when researchers looked at different types of searches within each category. For instance, the percentage of mobile searches in the travel category (52% overall) went through the roof for queries about wait times (93%) but was far lower for queries about exchange rates (34%).

 

Takeaways for Mobile Search Marketing
The data in these reports offer a number of key takeaways for businesses and search marketing professionals.

 

• While the share of search traffic by mobile devices has grown in the past 2.5 years, that growth is slower than many predicted.

 

• Brands should think in terms of mobile SEO or desktop SEO, depending on which device they’re targeting. Rankings change between devices based on a number of factors, including page length, style of language, use of images/video, where key information appears, and — most important — how user behavior on the page changes from mobile to desktop.

 

• Even though mobile traffic is now 140% the size of desktop traffic, a mobile-first strategy isn’t best for all businesses — just most. A desktop-first strategy might still be your best bet, depending on the type of business you operate.

 

• Device targeting needs to be adaptive and flexible. How you target consumers and which devices you target will be different for different search terms, different products or services, different stages in the sales process, and different types of customers.

 

How Geo-fencing Makes Mobile Marketing Hyper-Local

Geo-fencing in Mobile MarketingIn digital and mobile marketing, precision makes all the difference. That means targeting the right consumers, at the right time, in the right space. If your brand has its own app, few tools offer greater precision than geo-fencing.

So, what is geo-fencing? Geo-fencing is the practice of mapping virtual boundaries within a mobile app, then triggering certain actions when app users enter or exit those areas. Brands can send targeted messages to users when they’re walking by a physical location, collect data on users’ mobile behavior while shopping, or find out when users are visiting competitors’ locations.

Here are some of the ways you might want to make geofencing a part of your mobile marketing strategy, along with what you need to do before you add geofencing to your brand’s app.

Ways to Use Geo-fencing in Mobile Marketing

There are a number of ways that you can use geo-fencing in mobile marketing. Geo-fencing offers a high degree of customizability, particularly in terms of the geographic areas you’re targeting. When creating geo-fencing boundaries, it’s possible to create these boundaries in any shape or size. Unlike beacon-based targeting, which targets users based on their proximity to an individual point, geo-fencing allows you to target users within a rectilinear area or another polygon-based shape.

Geo-fencing then works by collecting information about a user’s actions while they are within a geo-fenced area, or by triggering an action when a user enters or exits a geo-fenced area. This allows for a wide range of uses.

Some common and effective ways to use geofencing include:

  • Geo-fencing your store’s physical location, then sending a message via text, email, or push notification when users enter your store letting them know about current deals or specials.
  • Asking your customers to fill out a feedback survey when they exit your store in exchange for a discount on their next purchase.
  • Studying users’ mobile activity when they are in-store, then using that data to update your in-store or social media strategies.
  • Geo-fencing the area surrounding your store’s physical location, then notifying customers about special offers when they pass by to encourage a visit.
  • Examining data about when users are passing through the area surrounding your store, then adjusting your physical advertising efforts or time-sensitive specials to take advantage of this.
  • Geo-fencing a competitor’s location to collect data on how many of your users are visiting your competitor, and how often they are doing so.
  • Sending a user a targeted message or offer after they have visited a competitor’s location.

Keys to Geo-fencing & Mobile Marketing

If you’re thinking of making geo-fencing part of your brand’s mobile marketing strategy, you’ll need to be aware of key issues surrounding geo-fencing.

First is the matter of privacy. Geo-fencing necessarily collects specific location-based data about users, and it is crucial that your geo-fencing practices are explicitly included in your app’s privacy policy.

Second is the method by which geo-fencing is implemented. If implemented the wrong way, geo-fencing has the potential to eat through users’ cellular data and battery. This can create serious usability issues and might lead to users deleting your brand’s app. While most modern geo-fencing methods operate in the background to preserve data and battery power, it’s important that you ensure your app’s method does not create these issues for your users.

Third is how you interact with your customers via geo-fencing. While geo-fencing can be a highly useful tool, it can feel invasive to users when it is misused. If too many messages are sent, or if messages are sent at inappropriate times, users can feel uncomfortable. Being tactical in your use of geo-fencing and keeping customers’ feelings in mind will be a big part of making geo-fencing a part of your approach to mobile marketing.

Google Revamps AMP with Video Ads

AMP Video AppsIn a move welcomed by the mobile marketing community, Google recently revealed that video ads will now integrate with Google’s popular AMP format. Thanks to improvements in performance, Google says that it now intends to make the AMP format as ad-friendly as possible. The move stands to have major impact on mobile marketing and marks a pivot from AMP’s narrow focus on speed and user experience

 

When AMP was originally released, Google stressed that the primary focus was on the speed, usability, and readability of its mobile pages. By creating faster-loading pages with streamlined code, Google was able to capture users as they migrated to mobile apps as their primary means of consuming content.

 

But to make the format as fast and as lean as possible, Google limited some of the options available to the mobile marketing world. This included limits on which types of ad formats marketers could integrate into the AMP format. One prominent omission: video ads.

 

Brands that wanted to use video ads in their AMP content had to jump through hoops to make it happen. Google’s ad server, DoubleClick, limited the number of ads per page and did not have any options for video ads. This led brands to rely on third-party integrations to include video ads in their pages.

 

The difficulty of integrating video ads caused problems for brands. Many lost potential ad revenues because they had to rely on less lucrative ad formats. Others saw page performance suffer due to the code-bloat caused by third-party integrations. And some brands decided to avoid the AMP format entirely, preferring the control and flexibility offered by HTML5.

 

By making video ads available to brands, Google is shifting their focus toward brands and content creators. The change allows creators to better monetize their AMP content and giving brands more options on ways to harness AMP in their mobile marketing efforts.

 

The good news: that change hasn’t come with a sacrifice to AMP load speed. Since launching AMP, Google has managed to improve content performance to the point where video integration isn’t expected to cause usability issues for readers. In fact, Google says that video ads are only the beginning. With the improved performance, Google has said it hopes to expand the ad formats offered through DoubleClick, opening up new mobile marketing possibilities through AMP.

 

Google Tests Low-Feature Version of Local Box

In what may be an attempt to improve SERP performance on phones with weaker hardware or poor connectivity, Google has begun to test a new, low-feature version of the local box on mobile devices.

The local box, as it is termed by local search marketers, is a box that contains information about top-ranked businesses in local Google search results. On desktop searches, it appears on the right-hand side. On mobile searches, it appears above the rest of the search results.

Usually, the local box is composed of three bands. The upper band includes an image of the business (usually taken from the business’s Google My Business page) and a Google Maps snapshot showing the business’s location. The second band, which is blue, includes the business’s name, the business’s category, the business’s rating on Google Reviews, and a star icon that allows users to save the business as a favorite. Finally, the lower band includes icons to call the business, search for directions through Google Maps, or visit the business’s website, as well as info about the business’s address and hours.

local box redesign

In the new test, the box has been redesigned, with a stripped-down, less aesthetically-driven look. The upper band is gone completely, with no image of the business and no Google Maps snapshot. Meanwhile, the middle and bottom bands remain. All of the business information is still there, but in a denser, less-colorful format with fewer icons. The only other feature missing is the star that allows users to save businesses.

Why is Google testing this new, stripped-down local box? Local search marketers believe it is a way to improve load speed. Some are suggesting that Google is detecting the connection quality of each user’s device and then using the new, low-feature box on devices with slow load times. This way, users who might otherwise grow frustrated and give up before their search properly loads will be able to see their search results faster.

Improve your local search results on Google and other major search engines by working with the digital marketing team at Qiigo. Call (888) 673-1212 today to learn how our digital marketing strategies can help you conquer Google’s local results.

Google to Value Mobile-Friendly Design More than Ever

mobile friendly website

Google has announced that it will be making a change to its mobile-friendly algorithm in May, putting more emphasis than ever on mobile-friendly design.

Mobile-friendliness has been an important ranking factor for searches performed on mobile devices ever since April of 2015, when Google implemented its mobile-friendly algorithm. This new update will increase the effect of that algorithm, boosting the negative consequences of non-mobile-friendly design.

Is This the New “Mobilegeddon”?

As soon as the update was announced, search marketers started to wonder if this would result in a new “Mobilegeddon” (a.k.a. Google’s original mobile-friendly algorithm update).

The short answer is: probably not.

For one thing, it’s important to note that the original “Mobilegeddon” was not the apocalyptic event its nickname makes it out to be. When Google first made mobile-friendliness a ranking factor, people expected the results to be big. Like Google Panda big. But that was an overreaction. While many sites felt a definite impact, and non-mobile-friendly sites took a hit, “Mobilegeddon” was more “Y2K” than “end-of-days.”

This update is expected to have a smaller impact, so non-mobile-friendly sites shouldn’t prepare for catastrophe. What’s more, the effects of this update are expected to be felt much more gradually. Google is planning an extended rollout, and the new algorithm evaluates individual pages – not domains – which will further slow the process. That may buy smaller websites time if they choose to update their web design to dodge the effects of this change.

Will My Site Be Affected?

If you’re already mobile-friendly, you have nothing to worry about. According to Google, this change will only have an impact on sites that don’t meet Google’s current mobile-friendly design standards. In their words: “If you’ve already made your site mobile-friendly, you will not be impacted by this update.”

For sites that are not mobile-friendly, it remains to be seen how damaging the impact will be, but don’t be surprised if your pages start to slide a ranking slot (or two, or three) on mobile SERPs.

If you’re unsure if your site meets Google’s mobile-friendly standards, Google offers a Mobile-Friendly Test tool that allows you to check if your site’s design is up to snuff.

Does your brand need a mobile-friendly website that Google (and your customers) can fall in love with? Qiigo offers customized, full-service mobile-friendly websites designed specifically for National Brands. Call us today at (888) 673-1212 to learn how the Qiigo Website Platform can help your brand rank better on Google.

Digital Marketing Trends of 2016

digital marketing trends

We’re just over a month into 2016, and already we’re seeing big changes and trends in digital marketing – some that have already happened, and some that are on the horizon.

According to industry experts, 2016 will be a transformative year for the industry. In 2016, digital advertising will eclipse TV advertising for the first time in history. Meanwhile, mobile continues to show explosive growth, as top CMO’s continue to shift resources toward mobile ads, mobile search, and mobile content.

With this in mind, here are three digital marketing trends to watch out for as the year develops.

Digital Advertising Leaves Traditional Channels in Dust

Digital marketing already outstrips traditional marketing in many major markets. But 2016 will mark the first year where digital advertising channels take over worldwide.

While digital has long ago overtaken print advertising, TV has remained a juggernaut in the advertising industry. That’s due to change in the upcoming months, as digital channels will become the biggest, most valuable medium for advertisers in 2016.

The Details:

  • The internet is already the world’s biggest advertising platform in 50% of major markets
  • Web advertising spending is projected increase 12.2% in 2016 vs. a 2.1% increase for TV
  • Consumers now spend 5 hours and 38 minutes on the internet each day, more than all other media channels combined

Mobile Gains Continue at Rapid Pace

No trend in digital marketing has been a bigger game changer in the past decade than the rise of mobile marketing. Mobile shows no signs of slowing on the path to digital dominance. In fact, more Google searches are now performed through mobile than desktop in the US.

While mobile is expanding at a rapid rate, experts believe mobile marketing will expand even faster over the next four years. In fact, mobile marketing budgets are expected to increase by over 20% in 2016, one of the largest sector increases in the marketing industry.

The Details:

  • Studies of consumer behavior show that 51% of digital time is spent on mobile devices, compared to 42% on desktops and laptops
  • Mobile accounted for 49% of digital ad spending in 2015
  • According to projections, that figure will increase to 60.4% in 2016

B2C Businesses to Make Big Digital Push

Trends show that digital marketing is expected to make major strides across all categories in 2016. However, B2C businesses are expected to show particularly robust growth. Digital marketing trend reports show that B2C service and product vendors are both expected to substantially increase their investments in digital channels this upcoming year.

The details:

  • B2C service vendors plan to increase digital marketing budgets by 14%
  • B2C product vendors plan to make even larger investments, upping budgets by 20%

Looking for guidance on your next digital marketing initiative? Give Qiigo a call at (404) 496-6841. Our experts can help you navigate digital marketing trends and position your brand for digital and mobile success.

Digital Marketing Facts Check Up

digitalmarketing

As we near the mid-way point of 2015, it’s important to take stock of how the year has been progressing and what’s on the docket for the remainder of the year. As expected, digital marketing is continuing to have a significant impact on how we market our businesses. As more businesses add or expand the percentage of marketing spend directed towards digital, it’s a good idea to look at some key digital marketing facts.

    78% of Americans have high-speed internet at home.

    It turns out that high-speed internet usage varies greatly between age, race and geographic areas. According to the US Census Bureau, 88.5% of San Jose area residents use the internet compared to only 69% of Fresno area residents.

    More than 90% of Americans own a cell phone.

    When you see this statistic it is clear why digital marketing continues to grow. More Americans have a cell phone than high-speed internet at home.

    More than 8 million US homes have dropped cable or satellite TV.

    Those 8.6 million households without cable or satellite TV equate to 7.3% of households. The number of US households who cut the cable cord continues to grow. The widespread acceptance of streaming services (Netflix, Hulu, etc.) has contributed to the growth of those households without cable or satellite TV.

    Multi-channel usage exceeds 50%.

    More than half of all American adults report doing something else while watching TV. Top omni-channel distractions include email, talking or texting via mobile devices, surfing the web, and watching videos on mobile devices.

    TV advertising costs continue to rise.

    Even with the distracted nature of watching TV continuing to rise, TV ad rates are going up. Cable TV rates jumped 7.1% while network TV rates remained roughly flat.

    Nearly 25% of ad spend allotted to digital.

    In 2015, it is estimated that $183 billion will be spent on advertising with roughly $50 billion going to digital media expenditures.

How does your marketing plan layout for the remainder of 2015? Do you have a solid digital marketing strategy in place or are you looking to revamp the distribution of your marketing dollars.

Call Qiigo today at (404)496-6841 to discuss online marketing strategies that include Local Listings Management, Pay per Click, Search Engine Optimization, and more.

Mobile Payments Booming in 2015

mobile_payments

We all know that mobile is heavily influencing how we live, how we work, and how we market to our customers. What we may have overlooked is how it is changing the way we spend money.

Mobile payments are expected to increase 1,000% in 2015. No that isn’t a typo….that’s one thousand percent! A new research study by Deloitte calls for this astronomical increase in global payments this year.

“Smartphones are already being used to check balances, transfer funds and transact online, but they have not reached a ‘mobile wallet’ status globally,” says Jolyon Barker of Deloitte Global. “We predict 2015 will be the first year that all mainstream mobile requirements will be addressed, making smartphone payment options easier, with user friendly security in place.”

Tech Week Europe reports that 10% of smartphone users worldwide will make an in-store purchase using their phones in 2015. This compares to the less than one half of one percent who made in-store purchases via their smart phone in 2014.

It will be interesting to watch as the market adapts and changes to the acceptance and usage of mobile payments.

New Google Search Algorithm Places Emphasis on Mobile Friendly Websites

Mobile

Starting April 21, 2015, the mobile search ranking algorithm Google uses will include mobile-friendly factors.

What does this mean for you? Ensuring your website is responsive and mobile-friendly is essential.

Google explains that this change to the algorithm will make it easier for users to find “relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.” With this change Google will begin labeling sites as mobile-friendly. The changes to the algorithm will also determine if a site should rank higher in the search results.

According to Google, “…We will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results.” You can find more information on this announcement here and test to see if your website is mobile friendly here.

Is your site mobile-friendly? Google has provided a quick start guide for ensuring a mobile-friendly website. Use this resource to gather information on offering a full mobile experience as well as testing your current site to see if it’s mobile-friendly.

Google’s given notice. To rank, your site must be mobile friendly by April 21, 2015.