As we all know, Google is constantly refining their search algorithm to provide a better user experience. And one area that they seem to have been focusing a lot of their efforts over the last year is with mobile searches, and it’s no wonder why. To date, there are actually more searches made each day from mobile devices than there are from desktop devices. Internet marketers and users have known for a long time that the mobile devices would eventually overtake desktop searches, but what’s interesting is that they are still capturing a greater percentage of the search volume with each new month.
As such, you would naturally expect Google to make changes to their algorithm to accommodate these trends. But they have come up with some truly unique and clever ways to change how data is populated in the SERPs, and one of these new changes relates heavily to apps. Yes, you heard me right, apps – even if they aren’t installed on your mobile device!
Incorporating App Data into the Search Engine
In the past, there were many applications that effectively acted as gatekeepers for data and information. If you wanted to access the content, you had to download the app – plain and simple. Today, however, Google doesn’t need an application to have corresponding mobile-friendly content for their information to be indexed by their algorithm. Essentially, this new update will help you access the content hosted on that app even if you have never downloaded or installed it. Believe it or not, they have made an update that will basically allow you to stream information from an app regardless of whether or not you have downloaded it on your mobile device.
But we should further define what this means and what it doesn’t mean. Understand that the link you follow won’t lead you to an applet or web version of the software – far from it. Interestingly enough, Google is actually running cloud services that host virtualized instances of these apps, and it’s this service that allows you to “stream” the app data. Also, you should note that even though they have implemented this new feature in their search services, it still has a ways to go. Currently they only do this for a handful of apps, but in time they expect to partner with more companies and app providers to improve their user experience.
AMPs (Accelerated Mobile Pages)
In addition to the Google update you may have run across the term AMP in recent updates. And they will be able to work wonders for your mobile users once they are released – so let’s take a moment to discuss what they are, how they work, and why they are needed.
You, like most people, get a little antsy and impatient when a page doesn’t load quickly on your smartphone, right? Unfortunately the bandwidth and processing power of smartphones lags behind the capabilities of traditional desktop and laptop devices, meaning that pages usually load slower on a mobile device compared to a larger computing device. It can be really difficult trying to fine-tune your website for mobile-friendliness (a fairly new Google ranking signal) to ensure that your mobile visitors have a positive user experience.
Here’s the exciting part, though. Google can actually store and host a cached version of your AMP pages so that when a user clicks on your link, they don’t have to first fetch the data from your web server. In turn, this means extremely fast page load times for your users. You do, of course, still have the ability to host them on your own as well. Though it may seem like a small matter, this could potentially decrease demands on the servers that host your website if your visitors are accessing a cached page hosted on another server. Sure, it may seem small, but it can add up if your site has peak traffic spikes and limited resources.
Google is officially implementing these changes on Feb 24. So what can you do to prepare for these changes to stay ahead of your competition? Well, the first thing you can do is to make sure your website is optimized for mobile users. This should have been done already, because Google made mobile-friendliness a ranking signal earlier this year that has a direct effect on how well you rank in the search engines. Secondly, you can (and should) talk to a web design and SEO professional if you haven’t done so already. They will be able to help you streamline your website, increase page load time efficiency, and steer you away from mistakes that will negatively impact your SEO performance.