Google Mobile First Index to roll out in 2018: how to get ready

Google Mobile First Index to roll out in 2018: how to get ready

In November, 2016, Google announced they were starting to experiment the so called “Mobile first indexing”. 2018 will be the year in which this will effectively roll out, little by little, for all websites.

What is Mobile First Index?

Up to now, Google has crawled websites using their Desktop Googlebot for most of the time. This means that their indexing mostly looked at desktop versions of web pages.

This will experience a huge shift in 2018 when the mobile first indexing will effectively roll out and Google will switch to their Mobile Googlebot more. When this happens, they will index websites looking at the mobile version of their pages first.

Is my website ready for Google Mobile-First Index?

If you have a website with a Responsive Web Design already in place, you may have not much to worry about, since content between Desktop and Mobile versions of your pages is very much likely to be equivalent.

Need a Responsive Web Design for your website?

Still, Google gives us the following suggestions to look at, if we want our website to be ready when the mobile first indexing rolls out in 2018. This will also prevent our website from not showing up as they should in the Mobile Search Engine Results Page.

1) Both Mobile and Desktop content has to have the same quality

If you design your website content thinking of Mobile audience first, then this is going to be very easy to achieve. Anyway, Google wants to make sure “the mobile version of the site also has the important, high-quality content”, which includes text, images (with alt-text), and videos.

2) If Structured Data is in place, it has to be both on Desktop and Mobile versions

Structured Data (such as Schema.org markup) is growing more and more important for SEO as it helps Search Engines to better index your content (often generating snippets such as Rich Results).

If you have them in place on your website, it should be both on the mobile and desktop version of the site.

3) Metadata has to be equivalent on both Desktop and Mobile versions

As for everything else, metadata such as page titles, meta descriptions and ALT text on videos and images has to be equivalent across different versions of your website.

4) For internationalisation, check hreflang links on separate mobile URLs

When using link rel=hreflang elements for internationalization, link between mobile and desktop URLs separately. Your mobile URLs’ hreflang should point to the other language/region versions on other mobile URLs, and similarly link desktop with other desktop URLs using hreflang link elements there.

5) Make sure your hosting server can handle potentially increased crawl rate

This does not affect websites that use responsive web design, as they don’t have different website versions hosted on separate hosts (such as m.example.com).

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2 smart steps to improve your website performance

2 smart steps to improve your website performance

  • You want to get the most visitors to your website;
  • you don’t want to be excluded from Google searches on smartphones;
  • you don’t want visitors to see warning messages that might drive visitors away from your website.

If these three sentences resonate with you in any way, you may want to give a look at these two smart steps to improve your website’s performance.

1) Equip your website with a Responsive Design

Responsive Design

Responsive Design makes sure that browsing works fluidly across all screen sizes from desktop, laptop, tablet and smartphone. This is done by building your website in a manner that presents differently to different screen sizes, so the website visitor has a very positive experience no matter what size screen they are looking at.

2) Get HTTPS, setting up a SSL to secure data on your website

Adding the S for “Secure” to your web address will both improve your ranking and avoid warnings such as “this site may not be safe” when visitors arrive. Adding the “S” requires a Secure Socket Layer that encrypts data transferring to and from your site from visitors and adds authentication to your website that says it is safe for visitors.

Need help to set up a Responsive Design or SSL on your website?

The rise of the mobile-first design approach

You may now be wondering how did we get here.

From 1996 to 2014, it was all about growing businesses into deciding that they should have a web presence. Some did it just to be there (in case they might miss something). Then, as time went by, more and more businesses took to a web presence and grew their effort to maximise its effectiveness.

Finally, with the rise of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, more and more people shifted towards them, moving away from desktop computers.

Amazon, Ebay, Netflix, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and other social networks and services have been strong drivers of bringing more and more users online as everyone now can connect to the web reaching out their device in their pocket.

The role of Search Engines

Search Engines such as Google, as their algorithms grow more and more sophisticated, want to provide their users the best possible experience when searching for something through their service.

Aware of the rise of mobile browsing, this means that a website has to:

  • be easy to browse from any device;
  • keep their users privacy safe.

Mobile-first design approach

On April 21, 2015, The rise of mobile devices in the online browsing market, led Google to roll out the so called “Mobilegeddon” algorithm update. This update gives priority – in mobile Search Engine Results Page – to websites that display correctly on mobile devices.

Last January, Google started issuing a penalty to those websites that display intrusive popups on their users’ devices.

The list goes on.

Safety through HTTPS encryption\SSL certificate

HTTPS encryption has been declared to be a ranking factor since August 2014, although people are getting more aware of it only just lately, when major web browsers started to clearly show in their URL bar whether a website has such encryption in place or not.

On Chrome browser, for example, you will now see to the left of the web address:

  • Secure

  • Info Info or Not secure

  • Dangerous Not secure or Dangerous

For website owners this can be a big negative. Someone is just about to visit your website and they are now being warned away, because “you are HTTP and not HTTPS!”.

Again, the focus here is on the visitor first and the website owner second.

For websites that are just information – this appears at first to be a bit strong but adding the “S” to HTTP adds a Secure Socket Layer to ensure data is encrypted and therefore protects the website visitor. This matters whether they are simply browsing your website or entering personal details and other sensitive information such as credit card details, etc.

Now, the bottom line is that if you do not have a HTTPS on your website – visitors are likely to reduce due to warnings and lower rankings.

If you do add HTTPS (using a Secure Socket Layer) then you are seen to respect your potential website visitors and you are rewarded by Google and the browsers by not having warnings showing to visitors.

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AMP becoming a new trend in SEO in 2017?

AMP becoming a new trend in SEO in 2017?

Apparently, no more than a week ago, when browsing Google News from a mobile device, just about 30% of the results were AMP. But, on January 29, AMP results increased up to 70%.

Is this event marking the beginning of a new trend for SEO? It’s probably too early to tell, but it’s better to be ready.

What is AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages)?

First announced by Google in October 2015, AMP basically translates to web pages stripped down of most of the “eye-candy” that makes them heavy, slow to load.

In an increasingly mobile-oriented world, page loading speed is more important every day.

So, the AMP Project‘s main purpose is to make mobile content available as fast as possible. It has been shown that about 40% of Mobile users leave a web page if its loading time is more than 3 seconds.

You can see that this is bad both for the user, who won’t see your content, and for you, because you will have lost a potential meaningful visit.

Test AMP search results with the demo provided by Google itself. Visit g.co/ampdemo from your mobile device.

If you talk to publishers about this, you will probably get them interested!

What is the difference between AMP and mobile-friendly pages?

If you are one of our customers, you already know how much we are focusing on building mobile-friendly websites. Then, you may be wondering: is AMP different?

A quick example, took from this article on the BBC News website (AMP version here).

Responsive vs AMP example

The one on the left, is an example of non-AMP responsive design. You can see the header, the menu, the search box and other elements appearing.

On the right, instead, there is the AMP version of the same page, stripped down to mostly the actual images and content.

Even if AMP are indeed mobile-friendly pages, their difference lies in the amount of code used in the page itself.

A non-AMP mobile friendly page will most likely have code that makes animations, scrolling effects and popups appear on the screen. AMP pages get rid of that, without compromising the actual content: images, videos and text are left untouched.

Quoting Google itself: “We want webpages with rich content like video, animations and graphics to work alongside smart ads, and to load instantaneously”. So, it is worth noting that AMP does not necessarily mean no Ads.

AMP and non-AMP version of the same page can currently co-exist without causing Duplicate Content issues. Make sure that the AMP versions your pages have a rel=canonical tag that links to the non-AMP ones.

Is AMP going to be used as a Ranking Signal?

Again, it’s probably early to tell. It’s worth mentioning that back in February 2016, in a Google Webmaster Central Hangout, John Mueller said that AMP was not yet a Ranking Signal.

Still, considering the sudden growth of AMP results in Google News, and the fact that Google has been placing mobile experience first for a long time now, then it’s easy to imagine that it could happen. We’ll stay on the watch for any change.

Also, Search Engine Journal collected insights from SEO professionals around the world, some of which are keeping their eyes on what kind of importance Google may give to AMP in 2017.

What it is sure is that AMP is great for SEO in general. If you build AMP pages, you will basically build:

Mobile-friendliness, Page Speed and User Experience are indeed Ranking Signals!

Also, with AMP in mind, you may end up writing better content, since you would have to pay far less attention about the layout.

How to setup AMP pages (on WordPress)

If your website is built using WordPress as a CMS, then to setup a basic AMP on your website we suggest you to install two plugins: AMP by Automattic and AMP for WP by Ahmed and Mohammed Kaludi.

Once you installed them, you can access to them under the same panel, located in Dashboard > AMP

AMP WordPress Plugin Dashboard

From this page, you can help yourself through the provided links to learn how to setup AMP properly.

Be sure to always have the latest WordPress version installed and also always perform a backup of your website before installing plugins.

How to setup AMP pages (on non-WordPress websites)

If you are not using WordPress, the best place to get started is the Guide provided by the AMP Project itself.

Need help to setup AMP for your website?

If you don’t have time to setup AMP on your own, or just need some help, contact us: Handyweb can help!

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Brought to you by Handyweb.ie 

Phone: +353 (0) 44 93 45145
Email: info@handyweb.ie
Services: Web and App Consultants, e-Commerce, Responsive Web Design, Search Engine Optimisation, Digital Marketing, Social Media, App Development, Online Payments, Online Business Automation

Google: Mobile Friendly Websites to rank higher on Mobile SERP

Google: Mobile Friendly Websites to rank higher on Mobile SERP

The so-called Google “Mobilegeddon” Algorithm Update will roll out on April, 21 2015.

Google is going to penalise those websites who are not Mobile Friendly by making them rank lower on Mobile Search Engine Results Page. Mobile Browsing will very much likely grow more and more, therefore having a presence in Search Engine Results Page on Mobile can be very important.

Keep in mind that, as written on the Google Webmaster Central Blog itself:

  • Affects only search rankings on mobile devices
  • Affects search results in all languages globally
  • Applies to individual pages, not entire websites

We at Handyweb.ie can deliver Mobile Friendly websites by applying the so called Responsive Design. With these design content acts very much like water does: it adapts itself to fit on any screen, no matter the width and resolution.

This is the first step to get the best possible User Experience for your mobile visitors and customers and, ultimately, this is what Google is trying to achieve by rolling out this Algorithm Update.

Have a look at a selection of Responsive Websites in our Portfolio

Not sure whether your website is Mobile Friendly or not? Take the Smartphone Friendly Test for your website here!

Don’t be left behind talk to us today!


Brought to you by Handyweb.ie 

Phone: +353 (0) 44 93 45145
Email: info@handyweb.ie
Services: Web and App Consultants, e-Commerce, Responsive Web Design, Search Engine Optimisation, Digital Marketing, Social Media, App Development, Online Payments, Online Business Automation
Online Spend by Irish Consumers reaches €5.9 Billion

Online Spend by Irish Consumers reaches €5.9 Billion

If I told you that over 10% of all shopping by Irish consumers  will be done online within the next two years – you wont be so worried. Maybe you think its only 10% of a big cake or maybe you think is it eating more than 10% of my industry  cake and each year after this  will take bigger slices?

What if I told you that this year the online  spend by Irish Consumers represented €5.9 billion and is projected to reach €9.3 billion by 2017 ( thats just about two years from now!).  If I judge  by my own home over Christmas I can say that over 40% of all shopping was done online ( and this % is much higher from the two single young adults in the house!).  Even I was astonished to find that my youngest had completed her Christmas Sales shopping on Christmas day ( yes, online!) as many sales stores opened online as soon as the retail premises closed on Christmas Eve. ( Was Nero eating Christmas cake while Irish consumers burned  their credit cards).

The research stats* are that 59% of Irish adults shop online at least once a month and your business needs to be online to ensure your business gains as the growth in broadband speeds fuels this spend not just amoung the younger generation who are already  more than happy to transact their business online.

Its time for Irish  businesses to wake up to the continued growth of very substantial sums online and be ready.  No, it is not about you closing your retail or wholesale premises and going online.  Handyweb.ie  offers a complete web consultancy service from small and medium size businesses to ensure they are geared up to deliver a quality online business.  With handyweb.ie  your website is designed in a user friendly manner, so that you provide a professional  quality service that reaches out to these consumers. From user friendly websites with responsive design that works fluidly across laptops, ipads, smartphones, tablets and desktops , matched with a quality easy to use management system, shipping and voucher systems  – and this  is only the foundation stone.  Our expertise  can advise on and deliver packages that will drive your website marketing forward through Search Engine Optimisation, Social Media marketing and other effective ways to reach out to that fast growing  spend.

Talk to Handyweb.ie today to find out more.  The future of your business may depend on you acting now to start growing your online presence.  Inquire here 

Your business may also be in a position to benefit from up to 50% funding for your new website.

*For further information on the online spend figures quoted above (apart from my own family stats above) please view  the Report on Irelands Digital Future

Responsive Web Design

Responsive Web Design

Your website deserves the best way to reach out to as many users as possible. Forget about people selling you a separate smartphone friendly website ( and charging you an ongoing fee for it!- anyway Google is not overly fond of finding two websites belonging to you and having similar content – you are at risk of negative scoring from them!).

Web searches on smartphones are growing at a rate of over 50% per annum. Dont be left behind.

Now is the time to start thinking  about a single website that does not care what size screen your website is being viewed on and which automatically changes its style and layout depending on whether your website is being viewed on a desktop/laptop, an ipad or tablet or any kind of smartphone. Yes – at Handyweb.ie one website does it all.

Checkout our short video that says it all and start talking to us now – you  will be surprised how cost effective and efficient our solutions are. Our web design team deliver creative and clever solutions for clever businesses. Handyweb.ie have the H.Q. in Mullingar, Co. Westmeath and provide quality web services throughout Ireland.

Check out some of our great responsive websites here.