How to Optimize for the Mobile-first Index

Most websites have been ‘mobile friendly’ for quite some time now; however, Google is still pushing on with their effort to create a mobile-friendly web for all users, and this switch to a mobile-first index is their way of forcing websites to conform.

Google will be rolling the launch of the mobile-first index out slowly. In fact, they started towards the end of 2017, rolling out the index to websites that were deemed ‘ready’ enough for the change to have a minimal impact.

As 2018 rolls on though, Google will begin to roll out the mobile-first index across more and more sites, but this phased roll out will give webmasters time to get their websites in order.

What is the mobile-first index?

The mobile-first index is Google’s strategy to determine your rankings based on the indexing of your mobile website. At the moment, all rankings are taken from the desktop version of your website, even your mobile rankings.

The mobile-first index will take your mobile website first, and you potentially might see an increase in Smartphone Googlebot crawls to your site.

For most websites there won’t be an enormous shift. For anyone who has a responsive website, the content on desktop and mobile is usually exactly the same. If the content you choose not to show has strong SEO benefits on desktop, you are going to need to take a close look at this and work out how to bridge that content gap while still providing an excellent UX.

3 Key areas to focus on to optimize for the mobile-first index

1. Site Speed

Google’s primary objective with the mobile-first index is to construct a better UX on mobile devices. This makes a lot of sense given that mobile search has overtaken desktop search. With that in mind, one critical area they are trying to improve is the page load speed.
A fast loading website on mobile will usually provide a significantly better UX (assuming the content is relevant), so any improvements you can make to either your site or your mobile responsive website will help prepare for the mobile-first index.

Here are three ways you can speed up your site on mobile:

  • PWA – Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are an alternative to moving to AMP. Their main selling points include:
  • Reliable – loads instantly
  • Fast – responds quickly to user interactions
  • Engaging – feels like a natural app on a device with an immersive UX
  • PWAMP(!) – a term first introduced by Google’s Gary Illyes at SMX Seattle, PWAMP is a combination of a PWA built on AMP HTML, JS and CSS. While PWAMP sites may not validate as AMP pages, they are lightning fast and provide all the benefits of a PWA as listed above. They could be the future and one to keep an eye on.
  • AMP – The Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Project is an open source initiative to improve the mobile ecosystem. Thanks to the pared-down HTML that is used by AMP, it allows you to load your web pages much faster than regular HTML. Google also caches your content within their cache to speed up load time even more. All this results in a much faster, sleeker user experience and should, in turn, lead to improved visibility in the search results.

2. Content

The next critical area to focus on is the content itself. To rank your content from your mobile site, Google needs to be able to access it. That means you need to make sure the mobile version of your website has all the high-quality, valuable content that exists on your desktop website including images, videos, links, and copy. Make sure all the content is crawlable and indexable.

To find out if there are any differences between the content that Google sees on your desktop site and mobile site, you can use the awesome Screaming Frog tool to find out where those gaps appear. Simply crawl your site using the different user agents and then analyze these results. Moz recently published an awesome blog post on conducting parity audits that could just save your bacon.

3. Technical

The final aspect to consider is the technical elements of your mobile set-up. There are a number of areas to consider, and making sure that you are deploying the same technical elements on your mobile site as you are on desktop will be critical.

Here are a few areas to focus on:

Google Search Console Verification – if you currently only verify your desktop site in Google Search Console, you will need to ensure the mobile version of the site is also verified so you can get live, up to date information about crawling, indexing and any issues on your site.

XML Sitemap and robots.txt – make sure any links to your XML sitemap are accessible from the mobile version of your site. The same applies to the robots.txt file as there could be ramifications if this is not accessible and you have pages that you control using the disallow command or other key instructions.

Structured Data – if you are using structured data markup on your desktop site, you also need to make sure this is deployed on mobile too. URLs shown within structured data on mobile pages should be the mobile version of the URL.

Metadata – ensure that the key metadata elements (page titles and meta description) are equivalent on both versions of your pages. The reason Google recommends ‘equivalent’ rather than ‘identical’ is to potentially optimize your titles for the shorter real estate in the mobile SERPs. However, you do need to make sure you are including the same keywords in your page titles on mobile.

Social Tags – Open Graph Tags and Twitter cards (as well as other social metadata) should be included on the mobile as well as the desktop version of the site.


The mobile-first index is happening now, so it is time to get into action. Begin with audit of your desktop and mobile websites, highlight any potential problems then get to work on fixing them along with making those all-important website speed improvements and you will find that you will soon be set for the change.

Jamie FitzHenry is the founder of Grizzly, an SEO Agency based in Bristol, UK.

10 Website Navigation Techniques That Are Leading 2017


The web designing and developing is engulfed with the latest techniques that are crafted to the challenging scenarios. In 2017, the previously discovered techniques are moulded according to the recent challenges, whereas the creative designers keep on producing innovative features. In this post, I have discussed some of the good techniques that may help you improve your website navigation.

  1. Add a fixed scrolling nav-bars
    The core purpose of adding navigation is to create ease for the end users to commute from one point to a web page to another. Add the navigation menu and keep it fixed for scrolling down the page. It will allow the users to keep an eye on the products and categories, regardless of the web page, they are browsing. It is quite challenging for the mobile users to scroll down, read through the text of a landing page, and keep in mind the category they are in. They are unable to view the nav bar on the product pages on the small screens of their mobile devices.
  2. Mega menus
    Selecting a style of menu for your website depends on the products and services you offer. The mega menu style is quite famous and recommended the most of a news-sharing blog, online magazine, or multi-niche educational hub. Incorporate mega menus on your website if you need to replace the regular menus that expand vertically and distort the view. This technique is quite useful for websites that readily shares informative articles and want the readers to take notice of it.
  3. Universal navigation
    Universal navigation is a form of fixed nav bar that exhibits other products or services the products has to offer. For example, a company that deals with multiple brands and has to promote them equally. With celestial navigation, they can put forth all the brands that belong to their company so that it appears on every page a user visits. The addition of celestial navigation proves fruitful for the eCommerce websites that are dealing with a mega network, and want to attract users to every portion of its website. They need to place such navigation, on every page so that users get to know about all the brands, and consider visiting them too.
  4. Vertical sliding navigation
    The vertical sliding navigation technique is a bit similar to the current vertical tabs, but this works well when perfectly applied. It is suggested to try it only if you decide to go with a full-screen design solution. Coding for a vertical navigation from zero is difficult. And, it is quite challenging for developers to incorporate it into a mobile responsive design. Most of the merchants are not interested in trying things that are complex as it takes more developer’s time and expense. But, being a demanding trend, you can try it for an extended charm and beauty of your website that looks different and attractive than others.icons
  5. Globally hidden menus
    The globally hidden menus are significant in managing the page space productively, whereas most of the users are not entirely aware of this feature. Though the designers must know the hamburger icons that signifies menu with subcategories, due to limited user awareness, they are unlikely to add this type of menu in web design. With the increased number of mobile users and their inclination towards web surfing and online shopping, they are soon to know about the hamburger menu that’s why it is considered to be an innovative trend this year. This technique clarifies the screen by summing up the entire web pages in a single menu, and only appears when the users click or tap it.
  6. Responsive sub-nav menus
    Mobile responsive designing is a need of today. Apart from improving the user experience, it is a ranking signal that tells the search engines, how the design can entertain the users coming through different devices. The responsive sub nav menu technique allows the users to navigate through different products, categories, and CMS pages through an easy to click the drop-down menu.
  7. Appealing Carousels
    The addition of carousels to the home or category page is a useful technique to let the visitors know the latest products, posts, and promotional offers. The appealing carousels offer a bird’s eye view to the users so that they can quickly go through the latest addition to the websites. This feature is becoming mandatory for blogs or websites that are frequently updated with discount offers, new arrivals, and recent news.
  8. Create a table of content
    Most of the educational websites and blogs tend to showcase maximum information on a page. The user may find it hard to know different sections or chapters on a single page. They may not be interested in the starting chapters and would like to just to a topic they need the most. With the help of a table of contents, they can easily navigate through the variety of topics with a single click. Web designs need to consider applying this technique in long articles to facilitate the users in understanding the structure and depth of the content on that particular page.
  9. All-caps Calls to Action
    The goal of every website it to navigate the users to the calls to action, it could be a sign-up, register, subscribe or any text. Keeping the text all-caps is an innovative technique for such buttons correctly if they are placed in either corner of the web page. The users focus the centre or left side of a web page, so if you need to highlight a call to action button on the right corner, it is to capitalise all the text. It is adequate for navigation.
  10. Single-page navigation dots
    Gone are the days when businesses used to create multiple pages and required the users to visit each of them separate to know about the entire website. The small businesses and web applications are turning towards a single page layout, where information is provided at the user scrolls down. To further ignite the navigation, designers can inculcate infuse dots for each page view so that users can easily navigate through the content. It allows the users to find any of the page sections with clicking a dot.


The trends and techniques in the field of web designing tend to change rapidly. The primary cause of subtle change is the result of the increase mobile usage, internet of things, and the awareness among users. These factors are compelling the designers to come up with innovative and result-oriented techniques to create ease and comfort for the end users in navigating a website. The above techniques seem to be quite impressive and may prove helpful for your business website too.

Simon Walker is a professional eCommerce Consultant with over 7 years of experience. He is currently working for FME Extension & FME Addons, premium Web Development Companies. He is also consulting businesses to help increase their online exposure and conversions.

4 Strategies Every Marketing Leader should be Using in 2017

The very face of marketing is changing consistently, even more so in today’s world. You have to stay on top of the latest trends and topics so that you can compete – because if you aren’t, then you are falling behind. In fact, you should dedicate at least a few hours every week to reading over marketing materials and new ideas. If you put it off until the end of a quarter or a specific day of every month, you will quickly fall behind.


For 2017, try some of these marketing strategies:

1) Get Influencers Involved

Influencers are the best source of traffic in the marketing world today. To use them effectively, you have to find someone that aligns themselves with your ideas and has a following that could use your product. For example, sure a big-name basketball star might have a lot of followers, but you don’t want to use him to market a make-up brand. Or just because a comedian has a lot of followers on your targeted audience, some of their humor might turn off customers that you already have. You have to be able to weigh the pros and cons of using an influencer.
Note that it can get pricey to use these influencers as well. The best way is to strike up a deal that works for both parties.

2) Remember That People Have Short Attention Spans

People aren’t going to sit through a twenty-minute video explaining what it is your product does. Sure, those videos have a space, and you should continue to make them. However, you should also make shorter, bite-size pieces of information that people can watch or read in under a minute. You just need to give them enough to whet their appetites for more.
Much of what you push forward in your marketing campaigns needs to be about the people with short attention spans. They will.

3) Focus on Mobile Users

Most importantly, you have to think about your mobile audience. People aren’t performing searches on their desktop computer or their laptop computers anymore. Instead, they are using their phones and Siri to get all of their information. Do some research on the top movers and shakers in your field and find out how their website looks on a mobile device – then look at yours. How do they compare?

Make sure that your text is easily readable on phones, your images aren’t cut-off, and when someone scrolls down your website, they aren’t accidentally touching things with their thumbs. Other things to think about include load times, randomly playing videos, information boxes, and navigation.

4) Get Better Social Media Teams

Social media is one of the most profitable marketing tools companies have today, and they don’t use it correctly. Look at all of the tips above and then look at your social media strategy – does it fall in line? If your target audience is under the age of 35, especially if they are in the age range between 15-30, you have to have your social media skills mastered, and they can tell the difference when you don’t.


Is It Time to Hire a Social Media Manager?

Hire people who know how to talk to other people online, who know the terms and the ways those platforms operate. It’s important to have someone who understands hashtags, SnapChat, gifs, and especially Memes because they are going to be thrown at you a lot. If you don’t understand them, you can become a laughingstock pretty quickly. If you don’t have the time to understand the current language of social media, maybe it’s time to hire someone that does.

Overall, a little extra attention to your digital marketing strategy will make a huge change in your profitability. You will find that it can even change the outlook on your business. Make sure to read up and reach out to people who can help you with all of the strategies listed above. Remember that there is nothing too bad about having a boring campaign, but a lot can go wrong if you try a new marketing campaign without knowing what you are doing. If you need help building a new marketing campaign that will meet your targeted audience, consider reaching out to Media-Shark.

tomTom Blake is a digital marketing guru at Media Shark digital agency, and all round entrepreneur. Running his own businesses since the age of 20 he’s work has seen him travel the world living in various countries. Now heading up Media Shark in the sunny Gold Coast of Australia. He’s passion lies in helping people with online marketing and providing technical SEO and digital strategies with one goal ROI.


How to Use Instagram and Snapchat Stories to Build Your Brand


We’ve long known a single picture is worth a thousand words, but how many pictures does a whole story involve? If you have spent any amount of time on Instagram or Snapchat in the last year or two, you might already know the answer.

Companies of all sizes and statures have long recognized the value of image-rich marketing, using color to evoke emotion, infographics to simplify complex ideas, and shapes to highlight particular qualities and meanings. Brands create and utilize images to mold their persona, sharing their brand story by giving a peek at the people and purpose behind the logo.

And for some, there’s no easier way to showcase those eye-catching elements than on visual-emphatic social outlets like Instagram and Snapchat, the image-based platforms whose entire existence relies on posting optically appealing elements to engage their viewers.

instagram snapchat

But as much power as a single image can yield, a thousand words at a time ceased to suffice when Snapchat’s Stories feature – and later Instagram Stories – rolled out and installed a new era of social storytelling. Pioneering features like ephemeral content has forced marketers to craft stronger, more efficient, more engaging stories within the images they post.

With a 24-hour expiration date stamped on every Story, there’s only one place a Story can survive – in the viewer’s memory, but only if it’s worth remembering.

A Magnified Look at Social Media Storytelling

A Cultural Expectation

Storytelling has existed as long as human language, serving to share experiences and information, and eventually cementing its place as a cultural norm. Some stories we share today, such as fairy tales and urban legends, are ones that have evolved through centuries of retellings and embellishments, changing names, places, and happy endings to fit our purposes. And just as humans did centuries ago, we continue to tell stories to inform, engage, entertain, and inspire, only now those stories do not always come in the form of a book or oral recitation.

Brand storytelling isn’t about cherry-picking stock photos or copying the successes of others. To be effective, every story shared must epitomize the brand identity, rising above competing brands and images to engage, enlighten, and inspire the viewer to either take action or seek more information. These stories serve as a chance for brands to momentarily halt their advertising barrage and give their audience a transparent glimpse into the beating heart of the company.

Brands have become as big a part of our culture as the products they represent, from music to clothing to food to social media and beyond. Some of the most successful brands have integrated themselves so deeply in our society not through their products and services, but via a storytelling strategy that speaks to us on a culturally important level.

The Cash Value of a Brand Story

As transparent and genuine as brand stories need to be, there is no hard and fast rule to deter your story from becoming your Call to Action. You simply need to know how to craft a story that warrants an action.

Consider the following:

  • What do my customers need from me?
  • How can I connect with my customers on an emotional level?
  • What drives my customers to make a buying decision?
  • What honest elements can I add to my story that can help influence a decision?

Let’s look at Coca Cola’s 2014 Share a Coke campaign:


As one of the world’s most iconic brands, the company stayed true to its universal roots by featuring individual names on its bottles and cans, which sent millions of soda drinkers on a scavenger hunt to find the beverage that “belonged” to them. But as obvious as this was a marketing campaign, it was also less obviously a reflection of how people provide the beating heart behind the brand.

In this case, Coca-Cola shared a story about sharing a coke and earned a 2.5% increase in sales from the same 12-week period the previous year. Also, Coca-Cola benefited from an 870% increase in social media traffic, 18 million+ media impressions, and a 7% increase in consumption, among other perks.

A Purpose in Social Media

As digital marketing trends continued to shift to the social sphere, both Snapchat and Instagram rose to the call of an increased need for solid social media storytelling that doesn’t only provide an opportunity for engagement but encourages it. Thus, Stories emerged on each platform to give brands and viewers alike a different, more organized approach to interacting with each other.

Keep in mind, storytelling is not synonymous with story-selling. It’s not just an outlet to promote your good deeds and wild successes to gain positive PR. Storytelling has always been about how we relate to others and the ways we share and understand experiences. Build your social stories around what your users care about, and show them how you understand their needs, likes, and interests.

Truthfully, brands have become so adept at crafting original images and click-worthy content that it often begs the viewer to question its authenticity. But Stories can – and do – change that notion by not featuring your carefully constructed material, but your in-the-moment highlights. And those are the instances that tell the most genuine, unevolved version of your brand story.

A Bird’s Eye View of Snapchat and Instagram


Say good-bye to the self-destructing snap – if you want to. With Stories, users can look at photos as often as they like until the 24-hour timer dings.

Think of it as a well-honed twist on a traditional photo album: users can post photos or videos in Stories, and others can view those posts anytime while they are still live. This gives viewers a play-by-play of what the user has been up to within a day’s span, but without any content taking a deep dive in their rolling newsfeed. Once a post hits the 24-hour mark, it’s gone forever.


Posting to Stories throughout a given day creates a unique narrative for the viewer that details what a day in the life looks like for your brand. It also avoids the one-view-only stipulation that formally ruled Snapchat and lets your image’s legacy live a little longer to create a bigger impact. This gives each of your Snapchat Stories a full 24 hours to inspire and engage before time runs out and something new takes its place. If creativity is ever necessary, it’s here and now.


The first photo-sharing social platform lifted a page from the Snapchat playbook and implemented their form of Stories.

Similar in form and function to that of Snapchat, Instagram embodies one of the most important elements of telling and sharing stories – the personal aspect. By eliminating public likes and comments to posts shared in Stories, users are encouraged to reach out via private message on Instagram Direct. This gives brands a clear invitation to respond and engage by forging a direct connection with its fans.


How to Choose The Right One for Your Brand

If you find yourself unable to differentiate between Snapchat and Instagram Stories, you aren’t alone. The resemblance between the two is nothing short of striking:

  • Posts disappear within 24 hours
  • Ability to add doodles, filters, and emojis
  • Similar privacy settings
  • Viewers can initiate one-on-one Conversation
  • Users can post photos and videos
  • Brands use them for similar purposes

Even so, the two can’t be described as identical. Snapchat trumps Instagram with its filters, face mapping, and reverse motion filters, while Instagram beats Snapchat on hashtag functionality within the app and easier navigation through Stories. Also, each app emphasizes Stories in different extremes, with Instagram prioritizing Stories as the top level idea, as opposed to a second rate feature on Snapchat, and are definitely tools all social media marketing companies should be using.

Given the massive similarities and scant differences, which one makes the best solution for your brand?

There is no single right answer. If there were, either Instagram or Snapchat would cease to exist. But whether you are considering a transition from one platform to the other, or are making the first leap into a social media strategy, there are a few things you should consider before clicking the Sign-Up button:

  • What platform does the majority of my target audience use? Don’t worry about which platform has the most users – find out which one can put your brand in front of the right users.
  • What kind of results do I get on my current platform? If you are already active on either Instagram or Snapchat and are thinking of jumping ship because you are not currently getting the results you expect, consider tweaking what you are already doing before you completely abandon your efforts.
  • Do I have the resources and necessity to manage a presence on both Instagram and Snapchat? Some brands can sacrifice the money and manpower to manage multiple social media accounts. But even if you do have the time, funds, and people to manage both platforms, make sure the results warrant the extra resources you’re forking out.
  • Which platform does my competition use? Copying the competition does not always give you the same results as your competitors, but it could be a good indication that they have found their target audience on their current social channel, which means you can, too.

Once you make your choice, be consistent in sharing your stories by keeping your result in focus. Remember, storytelling is about understanding and connecting with your audience, so quality – not quantity – should win every time. Now that’s a story with a happy ending.

benBen Shepardson has been creating and managing websites and web content since the early aughts. From the early wild days of SEO to today’s demand for fully-researched content that users crave, he’s dealt with it all. His latest project is NoStop Content, a provider of original, top-notch written content for business owners and media agencies.

Mobile Rankings: The New King of Search

mobile rankings new king of search

In today’s blog post we have Thomas Eder of Sawgrass Digital Marketing here to tell us about the explosion of mobile in the world of SEO, why most businesses are not optimized for mobile, and why you might be missing out on as much as 60% of your niches search engine traffic.

He also explains why a page one ranking isn’t enough, and how you can increase your number of clicks and calls by optimizing for the local pack.

Let me ask you a question…

When was the last time you used your mobile phone to search for something online?

You might have been standing in line at a Starbucks or walking across a parking lot to your car.

You could have been running errands or trying to find the nearest grocery store. Or maybe you were simply browsing the web in search of a new dentist or family doctor.

Whatever the reason, reaching for a smartphone to find and evaluate local products and services on the go has become somewhat of an after-thought for consumers in 2016.

It’s automatic, and it just works.

There’s even a phrase to describe it.

“Google it.”

A recent report from Search Engine Land noted that nearly 60% of all search queries are now coming from mobile devices. People are searching for information 24/7, and they’re doing it on the go.

The increase in mobile search volume might sound like a big positive for local small business, but the reality of the situation is that most small businesses aren’t properly positioned online to take advantage of this emerging user behavior. So poorly placed, in fact, that they may be giving away as much as 60% of their niches search traffic to the competition.

Today I’m going to cover why mobile is the new king of search, why you may not be getting the traffic you desire (even if you are ranked on page 1) and what you can do about it.

So let’s dive in!

The SERP is always evolving

Google's search engine results page is always evolving

Search engines like Google have made it their mission to improve the quality and relevance of their search results year after year. Google wants you to find what you’re looking for without having to scroll through a load of irrelevant search results.

They want to serve you a quality SERP or “search engine ranking page” (i.e. the top 10 results per page) that gets you from question to answer in record time.

The nature of this mission means that the SERP is a moving target, evolving to accommodate new information and emerging user behaviour. For example, the search results can change in real time to accommodate breaking news, current events, trending topics, and new information.

In the case of mobile users, Google has responded to the massive influx of mobile searches by modifying the SERP to not only look different but behave differently on a mobile device. Google has given preferential placement to businesses that have an optimized mobile browsing experience; amongst some other factors.

Google giving preferred status to websites with mobile optimized websites is an effort to produce a better or more fruitful user experience for mobile phone users, which are now recognized as the clear majority when compared to desktop users.

We’ll cover these changes in detail in the next section. A recent report from Search Engine Land noted that nearly 60% of all search queries are now coming from mobile devices. That’s a staggering shift in user behavior and one you may have seen coming, but maybe not this soon.

As I mentioned previously, the reality of the situation is that most small businesses aren’t prepared to accommodate this shift in user behavior and might be missing out on as much as 60% of the search traffic within their niche.

I’ll put it this way, if you owned a local store and had the opportunity to move to a neighbourhood that had 60% more foot traffic you’d probably move in a heartbeat, right?

I know there are other factors involved in that decision, but it serves to illustrate my point.

If SEO is all about visibility and you are only 40% visible, you have a problem.

So let’s take a look at what’s changed and how you can adapt and benefit as a small business.

Mobile Search and Local Businesses

Mobile search on a phone displaying businesses on a map

It’s important to consider “searcher intent” in the case of mobile. When a person is browsing the internet their choice of device says a lot about their intent. Mobile users often have a particular purpose behind their searches that you don’t commonly see with desktop users.

Mobile users are typically trying to find something specific, and they want to find it now. Wanting immediate answers doesn’t signal impatience, but it does indicate a more focused “searcher intent.” Mobile searchers are using search engines for a much different purpose than desktop users.

For instance, desktop visits have been shown to last three times longer than mobile visits. Desktop users are more engaged than mobile users because they are happy to sit and browse in front of a laptop or desktop computer. They take their time searching, reading, watching, and evaluating the information they come across because they aren’t on the go or in urgent need of information.

Conversely, mobile users want to get from A to B as quickly as possible. It’s not uncommon for a mobile user to be searching for a phone number, address, or quick list of options when browsing. It’s because they’re on the go and are browsing with a much different intent than their desktop counterparts.

For example, if what you were searching for in my opening example was a local product or service I’m willing to bet you tapped on one of the three “map pack” or local pack results at the top of the page on your smartphone. These local pack results clearly display the crucial pieces of information a mobile user is after, like phone numbers, addresses, and directions. It’s also unlikely you scrolled past the top 5 results into the area “below the fold” which is an old newspaper term.

The related term “above the fold” describes the position of stories above “the fold” or crease of the newspaper. Important stories were placed above the fold because that’s what people saw first when they walked past a newspaper stand. The stories above the fold caught people’s attention; they were more visible than the rest. If you were a newspaper editor in charge of placing articles within the paper, you’d put the important stories above the fold for maximum exposure. Important or eye-catching stories sold newspapers and increased revenues, you could say this technique was an early form of conversion rate optimization or CRO.

So why are “above the fold” rankings important to mobile? Well, it’s all about screen real-estate and an ever-improving Google algorithm. Advertisements, images, rich snippets and other added bits of info have all been encroaching on the SERP for years, leaving less and less physical screen space for the actual search results.

Also, users are finding what they need faster without having to scroll further down the page. Meaning the current traffic sweet spot for a local business is a top 5 mobile ranking. It’s where you’ll get the most visibility and as a direct result, the most clicks.

SEO or search engine optimization is all about visibility, and the manner in which that visibility is attained is changing rapidly. People aren’t using search engines like they used to, and this has its implications for local businesses. Having a website that ranks well within the mobile search results isn’t a luxury anymore, it’s a necessity if you wish to succeed with your online marketing.

Adapt and prosper

Two notable changes occurred within the Google algorithm in 2015 and businesses are still playing catch-up. The first is commonly referred to as Mobilepocalypse, a slightly dramatic label but a significant change none the less. On April 21, 2015, Google made a change to the mobile algorithm that favoured websites they considered to be “mobile-friendly.”

You can check if your website is mobile friendly using Google’s free Mobile-Friendly Test.

In short, websites that weren’t optimized for mobile browsing were going to take a ranking hit. Google didn’t indicate how bad the hit would be but noted that the change would bring about a significant shuffling of the SERP. This update is over a year old, and the dust has mostly settled but when combined with the recent research indicating mobile’s majority share of all search queries it’s undoubtedly reinforced the importance of a mobile-friendly website.

Along with significant mobile-friendly updates to your site, I’d suggest focusing on other important on-site metrics like bounce rate and session length. Google takes user behavior into account when ranking sites and a mobile site with a low bounce rate is a sure-fire indicator of quality content that’s satisfied the user’s query. It’s all quite straightforward if you look at the intention behind the changes. Provide a quality browsing experience for all subsets of your niche, i.e. desktop + mobile, and Google will reward you with preferential placement within the SERP.

The second change was the reduction of the local pack or “map pack”.

On August 6, 2015, Google reduced the grouping of local map results from seven to three slashing the available positions by more than 50%. Businesses in the #4 or #5 position that previously received a significant number of visits and phone calls from their “map pack” ranking took a noticeable hit overnight. The phones stopped ringing, and they were left relying on their organic rankings. The local pack is by far the best position for a local business within search, and when combined with organic rankings it creates a powerful hold over the SERP that is sure to influence consumers and increase clicks and calls.

The Numbers Don’t Lie

Street signs with lie and truth on them

To touch on the importance of a top 5 or “above the fold” ranking let’s look at click-through-rates for the various ranking positions. The data used is from an older but highly respected CTR study performed by in 2014.

Moz found that 71.33% of all searches resulted in a page one click, which is bad news for anyone ranking on page 2 or higher. But here’s the real eye-opener, the CTR distribution on page one is anything but linear and is heavily skewed towards the top 5 results “above the fold”.

These search results accounted for 67.6% of all clicks, and the results from 6-10 only accounted for 3.73%. Even more eye-opening were the individual CTR’s for the top 5 positions noted below (1-5):

  1. 31.24%
  2. 14.04%
  3. 9.85%
  4. 6.97%
  5. 5.50%

The numbers above make a strong argument for a top 5 if not a top 3 ranking goal, ideally shooting for that #1 position much like Coronation Internet Marketing does for the search term Vancouver SEO.

A page one ranking is usually a sought after goal for any local business but as you can see it doesn’t tell the whole story, and you might be shortchanging yourself by not reaching for that top 5 position.

Keep in mind, these stats represent the CTR for the organic search results and not the local or map pack results which likely have a higher mobile CTR due to their position above the organic results in the SERP.

I would also argue that mobile users are more inclined to click the local pack results over the regular organic results because they provide the info mobile users are often searching for like phone numbers and directions which will also contribute to a greater CTR.


If you’re a local business owner looking to increase the traffic to your website with search engine optimization, you must ensure that you aren’t forgoing the largest part of your niche. Mobile users now account for the majority of all search traffic online, and that number is sure to grow.

Thomas Eder of Sawgras Digital MarketingThomas Eder is the Founder of Sawgrass Digital Marketing a traffic and conversions focused digital marketing agency. He posts resources and content for marketers on his Facebook page. You can also find him on twitter @thom_eder and YouTube.