Mobile-First + Core Vitals: A Perfect Pair

Posted at Nov 4, 2021 8:00:00 AM by THAT Agency | Share

Remember when it was a big deal to be “mobile-friendly”? Back in the day…! It seems almost quaint that we suddenly realized that our websites needed to load, respond, and allow for interaction on screens a third or a quarter of the size of a desktop monitor or laptop.

Today, 85% (96% of those 18-29 and 95% of those 30-49) of the US population owns a smartphone; the average user spends 5 hours on their device - not including work-related activities. So, mobile-friendly isn’t an option. But nor is it enough. 

Mobile-first marketing is essential when it comes to capturing the attention, and purchasing power, of your target audience. And it is mission-critical in achieving a prominent position in the search engine results pages.

How does a mobile-first experience connect with Google Core Web Vitals?

mobile-first marketing

Google Core Web Vitals

Google Core Web Vitals is a set of metrics that impact user experience when they interact with your website’s pages. Speed, responsiveness, and visual stability are the core pillars if you will.

Basically, Google is looking at factors such as load time, the stability of your content when it loads, the level and ease of interactivity, etc., to understand how users perceive the experience when they are on a certain page.

Through your Google Core Web Vitals report, you can uncover problem areas that are impacting user experience - and thus your search ranking. According to Google, “Optimizing for these factors makes the web more delightful for users across all web browsers and surfaces, and helps sites evolve towards user expectations on mobile.”

How does mobile-first marketing come into play? 

In a move years in the making, Google has adopted a mobile-first indexing initiative. In other words, content that is visible and usable only on desktops will be discounted by the search engine in favor of mobile sites. Say a site contains the same great information, images, videos, content, etc. Google will prioritize the site that is easier to read, and that is almost always mobile.

Implementing a Mobile-First Marketing Strategy 

Take steps (now… today… right after you read these tips!) to implement a mobile-first marketing strategy. Of utmost importance:

  • Creating consistent content for mobile and desktop sites. Here’s the thinking: we’ll pare down our mobile site so it’s lean and mean, and then we’ll use all the extra screen real estate for a bigger, badder, more attractive site. But sometimes, that paring knife cuts a little deep; entire pages and/or important content that is available on the desktop version is AWOL on the mobile site. This harms your search rankings. Be consistent and include the same content, such as headings, subheadings, images, videos, links, and structural elements - in the same layout. Yes, the experience may be different, but people should be able to interact with your brand on an equal footing regardless of their device.
  • Building your mobile site first. To avoid the problem we mentioned above, build out your mobile site first. Once you have that core, you can scale your desktop version up, if you need/want. But you need a mobile foundation first. Remember: it is your mobile site content that is going to be indexed and ranked.
  • Ditching “m dot.” Your mobile and desktop versions should have the same URL. Let the .m go.
  • Utilizing images strategically. Again, consistency is key. Use the same images and the same alt text across all versions of your website (and make sure image formats are supported); image and video URLs should be the same always, as should your titles, descriptions, captions, and markup.
  • Leverage mobile-first tweaks. Our suggestions:
  • Make sure your mobile site is fully accessible to web crawlers by using a robots.txt tester.
  • Verify your mobile site with Google Search Console.
  • When using meta tags (e.g. noindex, nofollow), ensure they are the same on all versions of your site.
  • Cut out any unnecessary markups. If the content is obvious and easy to understand, leave it alone!
  • Use a structured data testing tool to see if your markups are consistent across mobile and desktop sites.
  • Check back with your Google Core Web Vitals report to track performance.
  • Work with a mobile-first marketing partner. Need help putting these steps into action? Google is a complex entity, and ensuring that you check all of the boxes, implement all of the tactics, and test everything on top of that is a full-time job for a full team! With an agency partner, you free your people’s time to focus on what they do best: marketing your brand, reaching your audience, winning over consumers, and turning customers into brand loyalists and advocates. 

THAT Agency’s team of web designers will build fast, responsive, interactive, sites that highlight your brand in a fresh way. Let’s get started.

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Best Practices for Digital Marketing in 2022: FREE GUIDE