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5 Important Things to Know About Google's Mobile-First Index

mobile-first index

Mobile usability has been a Google ranking factor for years, but the algorithm was primarily focused on desktop versions of sites when indexing. Now, however, the mobile-first index is officially rolling out following a promise by Google in 2016.

Put simply, this means that Google's algorithm will now view the mobile version of your site before anything else when making indexing and ranking choices. For sites that (wisely) use responsive design instead of a separate mobile version, Google will view your site through the lens of a mobile device, at least initially. Here's what you need to know:

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Google's 'Speed Update' Makes Mobile Page Speed a Ranking Factor

mobile page speed

There are many factors that are well-known to contribute to decent Google rankings: quality content, optimized meta information, keywords, content freshness, content authority, backlinks - just to name a few. When doing the work to optimize your site, though, the actual strategies for improving some of these factors can be unclear - not to mention how tough it can be to measure your strategies' actual effect on rankings.

Luckily, there's at least one ranking factor that's relatively easy to measure and improve: site speed. And with a recent announcement from Google, it's now time to analyze your mobile site speed and make it as fast as possible.

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Google Officially Extends Snippet Length

snippet length

Meta descriptions are one of the most important onpage SEO elements, with webmasters often spending large amounts of time thinking about, researching, and testing different variations to find the most effective description for each page of their site. Together with a page's meta title, the meta description forms a snippet that helps search engines understand and rank a page, while also serving as a "sales pitch" to entice potential visitors.

For years, it's been said that meta descriptions limited to 160 characters are optimal for Google's search results - but it may be time to throw the old playbook out.

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AdWords Users - It's Time to Implement AMP on Your Landing Pages

AMP landing pages

With Google's mobile-first index on its way, SEO-minded webmasters are more focused on mobile load speed than ever before. Simply put, the AMP format allows content to load extremely fast on mobile. In turn, AMP content often sees a lower bounce rate, potentially better search rankings, and even improved engagement.

Now, Google has announced that AdWords search ads will fully support links to AMP landing pages. While it's not known if Google will show preferential treatment to ads that link to AMP pages, one thing is clear: users will be much more likely to engage with your landing page if it loads quickly.

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Study: Google's AMP Increases Content Engagement by 35%

google amp

Google's Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), launched just over a year ago, has already become an extremely popular mobile SEO tool. It's being used by over 2 billion pages across 900,000 different domains, and it's likely that these numbers will continue to grow throughout this year.

The reason why is simple: AMP is an open-source publishing format that uses a special type of HTML, allowing pages clicked on in Google's search results to load rapidly on mobile devices. According to a new study from web analytics firm Chartbeat, this increase in speed also leads to an increase in content engagement.

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