How will Google AMP Affect Your Mobile Strategy?

By Jeff Kamikow

Google’s AMP project, short for Accelerated Mobile Pages, sounds great on paper for consumers of content, but for mobile advertisers and businesses it represents a tremendous shakeup.

Put simply, an AMP-enabled page uses a stripped-down version of HTML and Javascript to render text and images much faster. It one sense, it’s like Google is trying to bring back the simplicity of mid-1990s internet.

Why is Google doing this? Page speed and mobile-friendliness. It is in Google’s interests to make its search engine as friendly as possible, and people do not like to wait for pages to load. More to the point, Google wants to deliver the information people are seeking as quickly as possible. That’s why they’ve developed things like knowledge cards and quick snippets. But if someone just wants the latest info from a news story, that’s too much information for a quick snippet.  Enter AMP pages.

AMP-enabled pages require less rendering time and less data to transfer, both big bonuses for consumers. AMP-enabled pages are viewed high on the search page in a swipe-carousel format. They have a special icon next to the results to show they are AMP-enabled.

The system is open to any publisher that is willing to put in the necessary work to make these pages. Does this sound too good to be true? Well, yes.

The type of content that can be displayed on AMP pages is very restricted. For instance, there can’t be any forms on AMP pages, so forget thinking about capturing emails on a snazzy-fast landing page. Another thing is UX. AMP blows most UX away in its quest for speed and simplicity. There are no external style sheets or external Javascript. If you choose to enable AMP on pages, they’re going to have to look good using Google’s version and that’s likely not going to match up with your UX plan. Inline ads are allowed with AMP content, but only for a select group of ad partners. If you’re in the group, great. But otherwise, you may be left out in the cold. Fortunately, the group of AMP-allowed advertisers is likely to grow as the new specification is embraced.

What about backlinks? AMP pages have a URL that starts with and then pastes the actual URL. It is unclear how Google is going to affect organic rankings when you have both AMP and normal pages. Google is promoting the use of AMP, but whether or not organic results will get pulled up for other pages on a domain remains to be seen.

AMP is also optimized for news content and blog posts. Pure information. If your content strategy doesn’t revolve around these, then AMP isn’t likely to do you much good. However, it’s certainly something to keep an eye on for the future.

Google To Adjust Algorithm For Mobile-Friendliness — Again

By Jeff Kamikow

When Google calls the tune, the rest of us follow. Our experience of the Internet changes every time they make a change to their algorithm.  Another change is coming out in May, but unlike earlier changes Google is announcing the details in advance. It involves improving the rankings of mobile friendly websites.

Last year, Google said that it was going to increase the rankings of mobile-friendly pages on its mobile browser. Now they plan on “increasing the effect” of their mobile-friendly ranking signals in order to continue improving its search results on mobile devices. This comes after previous updates when Google added a mobile friendly tag and then adjusted the mobile search rankings based on the mobile readiness of web pages.

It is important for web developers to get their sites mobile ready now if they want to retain ranking on mobile searches. Ever since May of last year, the number of searches on mobile has exceeded the ones on desktop. If your goal is to reach the maximum amount of online users, your target audience must include smartphone users. Using a responsive site design is a good start, and is recommended by Google, but it may not be enough to meet all of Google’s requirements to receive the mobile friendly label in search results.

Google looks for several features on a web page to classify it as mobile friendly. These include things like using a text size that’s readable without zooming, and sizing content so it doesn’t need zooming or horizontal scrolling. Another feature is the placement of links. Links must be far enough apart so that a user can tap the one they want without confusion. Google also likes sites that don’t use technologies that aren’t used on phones.

The big G has also released a couple of tools to help web developers get their sites ready for the changes. The first is their mobile-friendly test tool. Just place the URL of a website into the search bar and Google will analyze it for mobile-friendliness. It’s a fast check, but if you want even more details, check out their Mobile Friendly Websites Guide. And if you are already mobile-friendly, learn what Google is looking at for mobile SEO rankings using this guide.

How does your site rank on a smartphone? Try running some searches on your website and on your keywords. Do you see Google’s mobile friendly label next to your sites? If so, great! You shouldn’t have anything to worry about with the upcoming update. If not, go through the guides and tools and get your site ready before this next wave of re-ranking happens. A short check now could save your ranking later.

SERPs Warning: If you are Below #4, You Are Invisible

By Jeff Kamikow

Do you think SEO is dead? On mobile it certainly isn’t. A new eye-tracking study just released by Mediative shows where people’s eyes go on mobile SERPs, and the results don’t look good if you’re not ranked well.

The study sought to answer four questions:

  1.    Where do mobile users search and click the most and how do they differ from desktop users?
  2.    How do SERP position relate to views and clicks on mobile devices?
  3.    How does the need for scrolling affect views and clicks?
  4.    From this data, what do advertisers need to do to ensure visibility and clicks on mobile SERPs?

Google’s alteration of search page layouts over the years has trained people to search in different ways. Now that there are knowledge panels, more ads at the top of results, people are willing to scroll a bit to get to the first real organic listing. On mobile devices, only 7.4% of clicks happened on a result below the fourth organic result regardless of how many ads and extra Google features appeared above it. This is compared to 16% on desktop.

The effect of ads and knowledge panels is huge on mobile. In many searches the first thing that fills the screen is the knowledge panel, then a certain number of ads before the organic results are reached. People still scroll down for that #1 position, but that spot has a lot of competition. Another finding was that 11% more people are clicking on the knowledge panel compared to desktop, and that almost 22% fewer clicks went to the #1 organic spot.

This is huge. Businesses that can integrate themselves into Google’s system so they appear on knowledge panels have a strong advantage. But that doesn’t mean that being in the top organic spot isn’t important. In mobile SERPs that only had organic listings, 99% of people looked at that top spot and 40% clicked on it. Compare this to 83% of views and 34% of clicks on a desktop. Also, 75% of the clicks fell on the first four results compared to 60% on a desktop.

What about PPC ads? Unlike a desktop where the eye usually has enough room to skip down, ads are much more visible on mobile. 91% of the people tracked saw the top sponsored ad. For the top two ads, clicks on average rose by 4.7% compared to desktop. However, placements in maps and local searches receive far more clicks regardless of whether they appear above or below organic search results.

The results are crystal clear. You must optimize very well for mobile if you are going to make any headway with mobile marketing. Fortunately, many businesses are still focused almost entirely on desktop SEO. Start applying mobile SEO techniques now so you’ll be ahead of the game.