Our Insights

Mobile Performance: The Key to a Website’s Success

September 15, 2023

When did you last use your phone to find a local ice cream shop or a reliable new veterinarian? Perhaps a new bakery? Chances are, you’re frequently using your smartphone, both at home and on the go, to look for the best local businesses in your area.  Our smartphones make it convenient to connect with local companies that have just what we are looking for, and Google is laser-focused on ensuring that search users find the best local establishments. With the meteoric rise of mobile device usage now surpassing desktops, Google has adapted its search algorithms to cater to mobile users, including shifting how indexing happens and rankings are derived.

Google recognizes the rising influence of mobile devices in users' online experiences and has implemented essential changes in how pages are crawled and indexed. Currently, Google's algorithms predominantly examine the mobile performance of a webpage to determine where it should rank in the search results. In fact, the desktop version of the page isn’t even considered — which is something that business owners may not know. Google’s crawler, Googlebot, is mobile-focused now. This new evolution is known as mobile-first indexing. While mobile-first indexing has been in the works for years, it’s a valuable lens to consider regarding website performance. After all, Google will determine the rankings for most site pages based on the mobile experience, particularly mobile speed.

What does this all mean? Well, your website’s mobile performance is more important than ever. Websites prioritizing fast mobile speed and memorable, seamless, and optimized mobile experiences will enjoy increased visibility in search results and fully benefit from mobile-first indexing.

How Does Mobile Performance Impact My Business?

The mobile experience has become a priority for businesses to consider. When someone visits a brand’s website, they expect a fast, seamless, and pleasing experience. If a brand’s site pages load slowly on mobile devices or aren’t well organized, this could create frustration among consumers and might lead a prospective customer to your competitors instead. On top of that, mobile performance issues might mean lower rankings for your site’s pages and less organic traffic from Google over time. Mobile performance issues can inhibit your site from building brand awareness, finding new customers, and receiving organic traffic — all of which can negatively impact your bottom line.

There are all kinds of pitfalls regarding mobile performance and user experience, some of which you are likely familiar with. Perhaps you’ve been on your favorite local business’s website and go to review your cart, but somehow, the page is still loading — it shifts downward on the page, causing you to click something else you didn’t intend to click on by accident! Hopefully, that click didn’t result in an unintentional purchase. That flicker of frustration is caused by something called Cumulative Layout Shift which is an important Core Web Vitals metric that Google has begun prioritizing around user experience. It measures how much that page is moving around while it is loading. This issue can happen when brands aren’t optimizing their sites well for mobile, and can negatively impact the consumer’s user experience. Cumulative Layout Shift is just one of the metrics considered, but Google considers several metrics when evaluating the user experience on mobile devices. The takeaway? In 2023, mobile performance simply cannot be ignored.

How Does Mobile-First Indexing Impact My Site?

Brands that offer amazing mobile site experiences, fantastic content, a robust technical framework, and other critical SEO priorities will do well. Any company that has neglected mobile performance or let it languish could see the negative impact of this shift, which could snowball over time. No brand wants to lose organic visibility on Google, but that is the precise outcome of inaction on this front. Google has no interest in ranking website pages that are slow on mobile, clunky, and don’t provide a worthwhile experience. Instead, sites with valuable content, fast page loads, and strong brand authority and trust will earn those coveted rankings.

Google isn’t always forthcoming with the specifics on new algorithm updates happening or confirming the many ranking factors under the sun. Still, this update on mobile-first indexing has been bubbling for a few years. Brands that ignore their website's mobile experience or even deprioritize it take a considerable risk, including losing organic traffic, rankings, and site engagement. Without optimizing the site for mobile effectively, those losses may not revert. It’s easy for a busy business owner to check out their website during a frantic day in the office but only look at the desktop version or explore desktop performance, but that’s not the best course of action! Even if that site works flawlessly on a desktop and looks stellar, it won’t help when it comes to growing organic keyword rankings, traffic, and engagement on your website. It all comes down to the quality of the mobile site.

How Can I Explore My Site’s Mobile Performance?

The most important thing to do is be active and take action. For most brands, there is always room to improve mobile performance. Google provides excellent free tools, but they aren’t guaranteed to be available indefinitely. One example is that Google plans to sunset the Mobile-Friendly Test tool. This handy tool allows you to test any page to see how usable it is on mobile devices. Google Search Console and other tools offer wonderful insights into how your top pages are doing, including mobile usability, evaluating mobile device usage, user experience, and much more. There are always opportunities to improve and build up your site to be a standout asset for your brand on mobile devices.

So, How Can Lewis Media Help?

There are several mobile-focused tools that the SEO team at Lewis Media Partners uses to audit a brand’s website. We always remind our clients that the mobile experience is crucial and mission-critical from an SEO perspective. It matters for branding as well. If you’re concerned that your site’s mobile performance isn’t up to par — now’s the time to take action. It’s a life-saving measure for your site to give your customers and website visitors a delightful mobile experience and preserve and grow your keyword rankings. If you are looking for help with mobile SEO or have other SEO questions, reach out to the team at Lewis Media today.

Suzanne Shaw