What do the “mobile-first indexing enabled” messages mean?

On September 18, 2018, people started noticing a new notification in their Google Search Console accounts. Google was sending a message that announced “Mobile-first indexing enabled for [insert site name here].”

What is Mobile-First Indexing?

Mobile-first indexing essentially means that Googlebot will use the mobile version of a website to assess it for ranking on mobile devices. The change has occurred as previously, Google only used the desktop version of websites to determine their index on search engine result pages (SERP). This meant that mobile users may have had difficulties viewing certain websites that weren’t mobile-friendly, such as having to zoom-in on content or incurring lengthy load time.

The problem was that so many site experiences drastically differ from desktop to mobile. Since more and more people are searching on mobile, Google wants to reward the sites that deliver a stellar mobile experience. Hence, the mobile-first index. Now, Google will crawl and index the mobile version of a site.

With the rolling out of those messages, mobile-first is actually in effect for most sites as of September 2018. Hopefully, you’ve taken advantage of the time since Google first announced mobile-first to optimize your site’s mobile experience. If so, you shouldn’t see a huge wobble in performance.

However, if you notice changes in rankings or traffic in the past few weeks, it’s recommended that you investigate your site. Use Google’s very own Mobile-Friendly Test to see how it evaluates your site.

SEO for Voice Searches

Mobile devices, smartphones and smart home devices featuring digital assistants like Siri, Cortana, Alexa and Google Assistant are all examples of how voice searching is a growing method for searching for content. It is quite obvious why this trend is growing; it is faster, easier and much more user friendly especially as assistive technology for users with disabilities.

An example of how SEO compares to voice SEO is when searching for a trade for example a plumber. For SEO we would target phrases such as:
• Plumber London
• Boiler London

However for voice SEO we target more voice-friendly keywords such as:
• Cost for fixing a boiler in London
• Worcester boiler engineer in London

So whats the difference? We must humanize content to suit voice seo and make keyword structures based on a conversational and informative tone. Consider the type of questions customers ask when they call your business to discuss a certain product or service, take note of common phrases or wording when they talk to you and optimise your online presence around these phrases.

How can we optimise for voice searching?


1. Long-tail Keywords

Short tail keywords are quickly becoming less relevant when considering the natural phrases people tend to use in voice searches. And with 20% of mobile queries being voice searches and the ratio of voice search growing faster than type search, it’s getting more important than ever before to ensure that you’re using the right keywords to capture voice searches.

As voice search gets more popular, it’s growing more important to be more conversational in nature. Focus on how customers speak when asking verbal questions which in concept can then be turned into a long-tail keywords to boost your SEO. These tend to be longer and involve very specific keyword phrases that are used by people closer to the point of purchasing something.

For example, if you are a boiler installer, the short keyword “boiler” probably won’t be too helpful to capture people using voice search. However, using keywords such as “Worcester Boiler Installation” will reflect what your potential customers are looking for.

2. Google Places

Let’s use our plumber in London example for how customers might search for a local plumber. 1. “Emergency plumber in London” This is a phrase we can target and optimise through the website for organic listings 2. “Emergency plumber near me” For the phrase “near me” Google then takes the users geolocation and directs the user to Google My Business locations in a close proximity. This example shows how vital it is to claiming your Google My Business listing for local queries. With voice searches with a conversational tone we tend to see an even larger number of hyper-local queries.

3. Blog posts

Once you have collected your customer’s common questions and phrases, you can then create content for them. Many companies put these questions into a single FAQ as the quickest approach to get this data onto the website however I recommend creating blogs based on this research. Yes this sounds time consuming however blogs spreading the questions will help voice assistants become more successful pulling content from your site. The added bonus is also what blogs bring to your business, keeping customers engaged, building trust and establish authority.

4. Mobile First

The huge popularity of mobile devices at this point is common knowledge to all. However, with the emergence of voice search, mobile friendly sites in turn are more vital. With over half of all search queries coming from mobile and voice searches mainly on mobile devices it is quite clear a mobile friendly site is paramount.

A Google study found that 41% of adults and more than half of teens use voice search multiple times per day. The devices used primarily in this research was of course smartphone devices showing that it is vital your content is as mobile friendly as possible.


It’s safe to say the conventional typed-out searches isn’t going to disappear anytime soon. Waking my girlfriend up whilst talking to my phone during sleepless nights may not be the best idea and for most occasions voice searching just isn’t suitable. However it is also quite clear that with many companies releasing voice assistants such as Google Home, the increase in this trend will only continue to grow.

It is our job to adapt to this by optimising our websites and take voice searching into consideration. Making future optimisations less robotic and more natural we can then prepare our content to rank successfully on voice searches.

Happy Birthday Google! Search giant turns 20

Google isn’t just celebrating with Easter eggs, it’s also launching a redesigned Google Images desktop website, which includes a new ranking algorithm designed to help you find what you’re looking for more easily. “Over the last year, we’ve overhauled the Google Images algorithm to rank results that have both great images and great content on the page. For starters, the authority of a web page is now a more important signal in the ranking. If you’re doing a search for DIY shelving, the site behind the image is now more likely to be a site related to DIY projects. We also prioritize fresher content, so you’re more likely to visit a site that has been updated recently,” Google said in a blog post.

SEO For Ecommerce Websites

1. Website Speed

To test your website site speed run your URL through a free tool such as Pingdom Google’s PageSpeed Insights to find out how your site rates on desktop/overall site speed. For mobile sites specifically, use Google’s Test My Site tool to gauge site performance.

Research shows that 40% of people abandon a site that takes longer than 3 seconds to load. Your customers will not be willing to give you there hard earnt cash without a good user experience and will likely return to searching for a faster website.

If page loading time is a problem, tackle some optimization tactics. For example, identify large images/files and compress them using Photoshop, or a free image compression tool. Leverage browser caching so repeat visitors don’t have to completely reload the entire page every time.

Part and parcel with a good user experience is a fast loading website. It’s also been a ranking factor for Google since 2010. With the amount of images and dynamic elements, ecommerce sites often load slowly, leading to lost customers and conversions.

2. Mobile First

An additional mobile-related SEO in 2018 is the introduction of Google’s mobile-first index. This means Google will determine rankings primarily based on mobile experience and content. Essentially, ecommerce sites need to ensure users have a similar experience on both mobile and desktop. If you have a site optimized for mobile, you’ll rank well on both mobile and desktop. But, if your site doesn’t perform well on mobile, it will tank your rankings on both mobile and desktop.

To ensure your website is deemed mobile friendly by Google, it must have the following features:

  • Your website must avoid software, like Flash, that is not common on mobile devices
  • The text used by your website must be readable without zooming
  • Your website content should be sized to the screen to ensure that users don’t have to scroll horizontally or zoom to read
  • Links on your website must be placed apart far enough so that the correct one can be easily tapped

3. Site Architecture

Ecommerce site architecture, or structure, is how you set up your navigation, category pages and product pages. At it’s core, it’s about getting the best, most relevant content in front of users and reducing the number of times they have to click to find it.

There are two “golden rules” to great site structure:
  • Make it simple and scalable.
  • No page should take more than three clicks to get to from any other page.

For an ecommerce website, the site architecture for popular products in their respective categories, related products, top-rated products, and recently viewed products are particularly important.Also, you want to make sure that your most important product pages require only about three clicks from the homepage. The deeper a user has to dig for the product, the less likely they are to persevere, let alone make an actual purchase.

4. Avoid duplicate content

Duplicate content can seriously be an enemy when it comes to ecommerce website. Ecommerce websites particularly meet this issue because they deal with a lot of product descriptions. When it comes to ecommerce websites especially though, the most common form of duplicate content is in the manufacturer’s product description. Looking to get as many products online as quickly as possible, most online shopping site managers simply copy-paste these descriptions onto the product pages and leave it at that.

While this is not plagiarism, search engines still treat it as just that. Instead, you should strive to create unique product descriptions using the manufacturer’s source and starting block to create your own conent. Unique content is always a must.

5. Set up efficient keywords

Finding the right keywords is the key to rank your ecommerce website. Take the time to do some in-depth keyword researches to pick the ones that suit your activity. Long-tail keywords can really help you rank high on specific niches where your competitors are not already. Those keywords can really attract the kind of traffic you are looking for and increase your conversion rate. Think in terms of user queries. People are quite specific and type conversational queries where they are looking for something. You need to think your keywords in terms of user’s search intents.

Get Started

Today’s consumer expects and demands a seamless user experience, and so does the search engine. Understanding and leveraging the connection between SEO and UX can improve search visibility and aiding the main goal of increasing sales. When SEO is done right, you will see an increase in quality traffic, which will lead to more conversions and repeat visitors.

How to increase speed of a WordPress site

Step 1: HTTPS

After visiting the website https://www.httpvshttps.com/ and many other testing websites it is clear the speed difference between a website with and without encrypted HTTPS is vast. As page load speed is so pivotal to high ranking results a switch over to HTTPS and securing the website with an SSL certificate should be priority one. Not only does this help with page load speed and ranking positions, I personally believe that people are looking for the green padlock in the web browser It’s a small, subtle sign of trust which in the year GDPR become a priority this symbol of trust can go a long way. This is especially important if you’re collecting any private data on your website like credit card information. If the site doesn’t automatically redirect, there’s the plugin called Force HTTPS to get the job done. Or you can simply add the following to your .htaccess file:
RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{SERVER_PORT} 80
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^(www\.)?domain\.com
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ https://www.domain.com/$1 [R,L]

Step 2: Browser caching

WordPress plugins are obviously quite useful, but some of the best fall under the caching category, as they drastically improve page loads time, and best of all, all of them on WordPress.org are free and easy to use. By far my favourite, is W3 Total Cache, I wouldn’t recommend or use any other caching plugin, it has all of the features you need and is extremely easy to install and use. You can set time limits for caching of most resources, ranging from scripts and style sheets to most types of images. You would do this if you need resources refreshed in a shorter period of time. An example of this might be if images change periodically but retain the same filename. Simply install and activate, and what your page load faster as elements are cached.

Step 3: Images

“The average website is now 2.1 MB in size, compared to 1.5 MB two years ago.” While you might be thinking that’s due to the usage of themes, plugins, and load-intensive scripts, images are actually the biggest culprit when it comes to sucking up bandwidth and space from a server. But using images in WordPress comes with a price. According to data presented by The Fiscal Times images, on average, comprise 1312 of the total 2087 KB on websites. My favourite image optimisation plugin is EWWW Image Optimizer which offers a variety of options including changing JPG/PNG/GIF compression levels, image resizing, image converting, stripping metadata, WebP support and more.

Step 4: Minify JS and CSS files

If you run your website through Google PageSpeed Insights tool, you will probably be notified about minimizing the size of your CSS and JS files. What this means is that by reducing the number of CSS and JS calls and the size of those files, you can improve the site-loading speed. Also, if you know your way around WordPress themes, you can study the guides provided by Google and do some manual fixing. If not, then there are plugins that will help you achieve this goal; the most popular being the Autoptimize that can help in optimizing CSS, JS and even HTML of your WordPress website.

Step 5: Web Hosting

The major factor that influences the speed of a website is the hosting of your WordPress website. It might seem like a good idea to host your new website on a shared hosting provider that offers “unlimited” bandwidth, space, emails, domains and more. However, the point that we usually miss out on regarding this offer is that shared hosting environments fail to deliver good loading times on peak traffic hours, and most fail to provide 99 percent uptime in any given month. As a first step, avoid shared hosting if you can. Doing so eliminates the risk of having bad neighbours on your server that can slow down your site using a large amount of resources and failing to deliver on peak traffic hours can be costly. Also, unless you have a huge site and the manpower/budget to run your own server, a dedicated server might be more than you need. For that reason, a VPS is probably the best option. This type of hosting provides a nice balance of speed, comfort and cost. Another option is to go with one of the growing offers of managed WordPress hosting. Doing so means your site will run on a server specially optimized for WordPress and you don’t have to take care of any of the technical stuff of running a website. Plus, prices for managed WordPress hosting are dropping.

Step 6: Delete Unnecessary Plugins

There are over 54,382 WordPress Plugins. The ease at which you can install WordPress Plugins is both a beauty and a curse. Often leading to plugin bloat. Each plugin adds more and more code for WordPress to load. Adding more weight and decreasing performance. As a first step, deactivate or delete any unnecessary plugins and check if the site loads faster. Alternatively, you can use a plugin profiler  to narrow down plugins that are slowing down your WordPress site.

Step 7: Decrease Server Requests

A server request happens every time your browser asks some type of resource from your server. This can be a file like a style sheet, a script or an image. The more server requests necessary to complete loading your site, the longer it will take. As a consequence, requests should be as few as possible. Every HTML, CSS and JavaScript file your site requires adds to the number of HTTP requests it takes to load your site. So by combining and minifying these assets, you not only reduce the number of files that need to load, but you reduce the total file size of your site. Combining files, meanwhile, is just like it sounds. For example, if your web page load 5 external CSS files and 5 external JavaScript files, combining your CSS and JavaScript into a single separate file each would result in just 2 requests instead of 10. However, it’s important to note that if you’re using HTTP/2, it means that several requests can happen at the same time and combining files will have less of an impact on the loading time. Pingdom and GTmetrix can show you a detailed list of server requests and how long they need to complete. From there, you can take steps to either eliminate requests or make sure they complete as quickly as possible. That brings us to the next point.