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PMG Digital Made for Humans

Google Really Wants You to Go “Mobile First”

3 MINUTE READ | September 1, 2015

Google Really Wants You to Go “Mobile First”

“This is the year of mobile.”— Every marketer between 2007-present

It’s become a bit of broken record, and as much as many are tired of hearing that phrase, I can assure you that marketers are just as tired of saying it. The truth is that it’s not about recognizing the “year of mobile” anymore. At least, not the way we normally think of it. The meaning of that phrase has changed. What initially stood for the critical point when Mobile would actually become a channel with impact (a point that has long since come and gone), now stands for something much more significant. We are rapidly approaching the tipping point where Mobile takes its seemingly inevitable place as the primary channel, driving strategy for the business rather than riding sidecar.

Google has been preaching this sermon a long time. While Apple and the iPhone may have given the mobile race a jolt of nitrous, it has been Google that’s been laying the track. They were among the first to adopt the “Mobile First” philosophy, and it is Google that is now forcing the hand of many businesses in nearly every vertical.

Over the last several months, Google has rolled out a series of substantial changes to mobile search results. These changes have been significant, often greatly impacting traffic and click-through across channels. The fires have been big enough that companies have had little choice but to address them almost immediately. Since April of 2015, Google has rolled out no fewer than six major changes to mobile SERPs (search engine result pages):

  • “Mobile-friendly” update

  • Tweets in mobile search results

  • Mobile paid sitelinks (single column)

  • Mobile natural sitelinks (accordion)

  • Three search ads on mobile searches

  • Local Pack showing above all natural results

Not all of these changes are happening on 100% of searches, but all are occurring enough that big brands must make moves to address them. Put all these together and you’ve got some serious work to do on mobile — and all before Holiday 2015. It’s a little funny how Google has been telling us to focus on mobile for so long, and within the last four months, more changes have rolled out to force action on mobile than we’ve seen in the last two years. Is that a coincidence? Did these projects all roll-out and hit production in some weird form of digital serendipity? Or did Google think we were all moving a little too slowly?

Regardless of Google’s intentions with these updates, we shouldn’t shrink away from the opportunity that these changes have provided. There is nothing like a crisis to force action. And Google just plopped down six fat ones right in front of us. If this isn’t enough to get buy-in on prioritizing mobile strategy, then you’re probably going to be in for a long, unpleasant Holiday season.

You may want to add a little more “spice” to that eggnog.

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Posted by: Jonathan Hunt

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