Late last month, Google announced they were removing instant search with immediate affect.
Instant search was launched in 2010 with the ability to predict what users were searching for, offering results based on specific keywords in a dropdown box, whilst users were still typing.
At the time, Marissa Mayer, head of search at Google, said that if everyone on the planet were to use instant search, it would save 3.5 billion seconds per day and reduce each search time by 2-5 seconds.
Its launch changed the search process but gradually, mobile moved to the forefront making instant search almost redundant. With over 50% of searches now taking place on mobile, Google are looking at new ways to keep up with the changes in user behaviour.
Google and a mobile focused future
Google have long been keen to push the web into a mobile friendly place, something that started with the launch of mobilegeddon in 2015 and will continue with the release of the mobile-first index.
The mobile-first index takes the need for sites to be mobile optimised one step further. For those that are not, the outcome could be detrimental.
The update is designed to unite mobile and desktop sites, preventing any distinction between the two. The mobile version is set to become the primary site, with ranking results based on mobile content, even for desktop searchers.
Not only will rankings change, the mobile site will then become the main representation of your brand – further incentive to accommodate the update.
For several months, Google has been teasing updates on mobile-first with no mention of a specific launch date – although it’s expected to be released later this year.
What you need to know about the move to a mobile-first index
To bring your site inline with the mobile-first index update and to ensure your rankings are not detrimentally affected there are four areas you should focus on:
Content on your website needs to be as accessible on mobile as it is on desktop to maintain a consistent user experience across both versions of the site.
This is already a ranking factor and it is becoming more and more important to have efficient page speed to improve usability. It has been estimated that 40% of users will leave a site if a page takes more than 3 seconds to load.
Internal linking and site structure
Users must be able to find the content as easily as they would on mobile as they would on the desktop version of your site. Make sure the information architecture, or the way your site is structured, replicates that of the desktop version and users can easily navigate to the content they want. A good site structure and internal linking also has benefits for making sure users don’t bounce off your website quickly, feeling they can’t find the information they need!
This enables Google to understand the content of a page and again, this has to replicate the desktop site.
Significant change is afoot within Google search, something that the industry is all too familiar with. Google is now solely focused on mobile search, making it crucial for brands to bring their sites inline or risk a potentially disastrous impact on their site’s performance.