Wondering how to rank on Google but unsure where to start? Though there are plenty of easy ways marketers can increase their rankings over time in Google's search engine results page (SERP), you could be making one big mistake that could cause your ranking to plummet: not offering a mobile or responsively designed site. In the past, having a website that was optimized for mobile was a definite plus but didn't have much of an impact on search results and ranking. However, now that we truly live in a mobile-first world, the search landscape has changed, and having a website optimized for mobile is more critical than ever. And here's why.
Google Has Already Begun Mobile-First Indexing
Google announced it has officially begun using a mobile-first index for its SERP. This new ranking system will prioritize mobile versions of websites to determine search engine ranking, according to Search Engine Land. Though Google has said it's planning to fall back on the desktop version of websites when there's no mobile version available, the fact is this is likely a temporary measure, designed to give those who still haven't made the leap to mobile some extra time to catch up. Make no mistake: The clock is running out, and those who still haven't optimized their websites for mobile are going to continue to see diminishing returns if they plan on sticking to their desktop-only strategies. In fact, such erosion has already begun.
Desktop Begins Falling Behind
Earlier this year, Gary Illyes, a webmaster trends analyst at Google, gave a keynote address (covered by Search Engine Land) in which he revealed Google is working on creating a special mobile index. It will deliver more up-to-date results for sites with mobile or responsive designs than those with desktop versions alone, which will be distributed via a secondary desktop index. And while this may not have an immediate effect on search engine results ranking, the implication is that with the mobile-first indexing mentioned above, the information Google pulls for desktop sites will always be just a little outdated, leading to fewer clicks as consumers head to the competition for the most current information.
While there's no single best answer to the question of how to rank on Google, the single most important step marketers can take is to commit to creating mobile versions of their sites. Not only will this help mobile consumers navigate each website, but it will ensure the websites are able to both maintain their rankings and continue to rise in the search engine results.