Google Ranking Factors 2017

01. The Three Most Important Things in 2017 for Google Are: “Mobile and Mobile and Mobile”

With Ned, Stephen, Gerry and Dawn.


Ned Poulter
CEO & Founder Pole Star Digital

I’ve never heard that before.

Dawn Anderson
Director Move It Marketing

I have, I have yeah.

Gerry White
SEO Consultant Just Eat

It’s incredible that we’ve been talking about the year of mobile since 2011?

Ned Poulter
It’s before that. It’s definitely before that.

Dawn Anderson
We have surpassed that point where more searches are on mobile devices than they are on desktop and worldwide more people are using mobile than desktop.

Gerry White
100%. I understand. Worldwide absolutely, and in the UK alone. But, I mean, the thing is that we shouldn’t be in a situation where we’re kind of going this is the year of mobile. We should have had that conversation and go on.

Dawn Anderson
Years ago, we should, absolutely. But, you know, people tend to procrastinate, brands procrastinate. I think we had a conversation not long ago actually, where by we were saying that brands should have ticked that box a long long time ago but getting things through business cases, turning big ship websites around et cetera, maybe a lot of them might officially tick a mobile-friendly box but they are a terrible mobile experience. You know?

Gerry White
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, a lot of the times you find that JavaScript, something like that, interferes with actually being usable, so conversion rate is down on a mobile therefore we’re not going, we only sell X-amount on a mobile, therefore we are going to concentrate so because…

Dawn Anderson
We are not going to prioritize it because the business case, yeah…

Gerry White
…so rather than improving it, it seems to be kinda redundant and the other side of it is speed, of course. I mean me talked about speed a lot already. Speed is so critical on mobiles because people are often shorter on time, the intent is often: “I’m travelling between here and there”…

Dawn Anderson
It’s minute, minute, minute. It’s like, there was a really really interesting piece of research that Google commissioned. I think it was PEW actually, one of the huge research companies, and it looked at how many interactions somebody had with the brand of searches they did before they bought a car.

And it was amazing, it was like 900 things she looked for, she looked up. What type of car would be best for her, what would be within her budget, what the fuel efficiency was…

Stephen Kenwright
Director of Search Branded3

What would the insurance be like?

Dawn Anderson
What would the insurance be, what would her running cost be et cetera and it was all very much tiny, tiny research online, purchase online, but in tiny, tiny bits of research because we’ve all got this always-connected mentality now, where we are doing tiny bits and moving towards little goals in their life? That makes sense?

Stephen Kenwright
Yeah. I think the risk is looking at it through a marketing lens, I mean because we are working digitally, make the assumption that everyone sits at their laptop the whole day and then everyone goes home and then looks at the mobile device, so everyone kind of looks at the mobile device on the go, but that’s not necessarily true.

A lot of people won’t interact with the brand at all on a desktop or a laptop for the whole duration of their experience, so it’s not just kind of a first impression that traditional model of “you see a TV ad and you bring up your mobile”. It’s probably the only impression for a lot of websites and when you’re thinking, brands convert lower on a mobile, probably they do but actually if you’re considering that sometimes the only opportunities convert, maybe we should design in a different way.

Dawn Anderson
I think about the millennials, I know I said that word twice but you know, they and the generation Z, they are the future. Organisations should be really looking to build things, towards the future spenders.

Ned Poulter
Impatience bastards!

Dawn Anderson
The future spenders! How many of them do not have a desktop? They literally live their lives by their mobile.

Ned Poulter
I think one of the weird things, like you just said Stephen, is that we look at it as marketers and actually it’s more the kind of a societal change, people literally interacting with mobile devices. Even an iWatch, for example, things like that.

Dawn Anderson
People are changing… exactly, exactly.

Ned Poulter
They interact with it in a totally different way, they are continuing to. So when it comes to mobile SEO I suppose it’s kind of similar to what we’re talking about Page Speed, obvious things. The technical wrangling of serving your kind of brand experience environment to your consumer, but I think we can either bypass a lot of the thinking and try and get to the end point quite quickly, which I’ve seen where people optimize for conversions on mobiles. ‘cause, like you said Stephen, conversation rate is worse on mobile, we wanna boost that.

We’ll optimize for conversions on mobiles and it detracts from the actual desktop experience so, what if you’re chasing the actual revenue overall and contribution overall, you may end up losing out on that.

So in terms of mobile SEO, I think it’s, again, more to do with the technical side of things. I think when we are going to talk about OnPage factors and long form content, they suck on mobile, by the way.

Dawn Anderson
Yes, it’s a funny one.

Ned Poulter
So it’s kind of bit of a weird one that you have to hang in balance because the obvious SEO benefits of doing xyz for mobile SEO may actually detract from all of the import things that you’re trying to get to, like, someone actually converting.

Gerry White
So one of the things that we have sort of noticed is the fact that mobile phones have massively grown in size, they’re no longer pocket devices, they’re pocket computers and they are incredibly powerful. I mean, one odd thing is the fact that nowadays your thumb doesn’t reach the top left side of it so if you put your menu up there, unless you’re left-handed in which case is different, it’s almost a two-handed operation.

Dawn Anderson
And there is a new type coming out which is the folding, the folding mobile, two days ago, I think that it was on Techcrunch. I can’t remember who it is but one of the organisations that manufactures phones has now got this patent for a folding phone, that literally turns it into an iPad.

Gerry White
That’s exactly it. We are gonna see the death of….

Dawn Anderson
That’s the conversion. That’s the conversion.

Gerry White
We’re going to see the death of the tablet, almost, because the mobile phone is so useful.

Dawn Anderson
Well, iPads have been in decline for years.

Gerry White
Yeah, absolutely, because it’s like: “Look at the iPad, this does pretty much everything I can do on this phone”.

Dawn Anderson
Because now you got the “Phablet” which is kind of inbetween the iPad and the phone but then if they do somehow managed to get this folding think picking up you suddenly got an iPad and a phone in one and then you start to tackle the conversion element of it, you know?

Ned Poulter
It’s such a minefield tough isn’t it? Because try to be responsive on a folding phone….

Dawn Anderson
And now, of course, we got “mobile first indexing” which is not around the corner, because they said it’s like lesser on the share. Well, I think what happened is, when they announced it at PubCon, I think it hadn’t been fully thought through. At the point, it was just really there to give people prior warning that this is on the agenda. And then, obviously, SEOs are just all going into a panic, me included.

Ned Poulter
Well yeah, we mentioned it earlier on and Jerry said about searcher intent, I think one of the big things which we would all agree with, I’m sure is local. So when when your intent is clearly local Google and the search engines in general have absolutely smashed up because if it’s „burger restaurant nearby“ or whatever the search may be.

It’s gonna serve you local results and, by the way, it’s in the local pack it’s nothing to do with the organic SERP so it’s a separate product, it’s vertical that they are bringing forward into the universal results.

Dawn Anderson
And It’s probably going to bring you several results that you’ve visited before.

Ned Poulter
Yeah, I mean there is a lot of different….

Dawn Anderson
I know that this is a separate subject but you know your phone is like you. I mean, it’s not about mobile, it crosses over into personalisation. Your phone is an extension of you.

Stephen Kenwright
Yeah, I think, when it comes to intent you know you’ve got much more outside pressures on you when you’ve got a mobile phone than you have on a desktop. You’ve gone to your desktop to do something where it’s, with your mobile, you’ve got those external factors that kind of cause you to do that.

And I think about the clients that I work with that convert so much better on a mobile, some of them are because they’re on TV all the time so they see the advert they pull it out and another one, we have a car client who gets literally 10% more enquiries when Top Gear’s on because people are looking at a car and thinking I want to look for a car.

Ned Poulter
Well it’s that kind of an association – the problem with that or the downfall is looking a bit too closely at the data and treating it, taking it as the upmost kind of verified source because you do have that break in whatever it is.

Gerry White
That’s a good point, I mean, a session, a conversion rate is usually after a 30-minute break but the amount of times that I pick my phone up and I’m kind of going, “oh this is the adverse”, 40 minutes later I’m almost doing the same journey but it’s kinda sad we didn’t convert then, and this is a new journey, we didn’t convert then.

Ned Poulter
Exactly! I suppose it comes down to user testing and testing properly and thoroughly rather than just looking at the minutiae and going: ”Oh, we had so much of a drop-off rate there!” and not recognising that that could be the same person just later on.

Gerry White
Yeah. I mean a great example is sometimes I’m ordering a takeaway on my phone and I’ll kind of add things to the basket and then end up when I get home basically then completing the order because I’ve decided what I want I almost build what I want and sometimes it can take …

Dawn Anderson
Exactly! It’s all that whole type of approach.
It’s like I often buy appliances – no I don’t buy them, not often and not everyday or anything but you know – I got all in to buy an appliance in an actual retail outlet initially and that was just a terrible experience. So I’m in the car on the way home I went on to a well known – I’m not going to give anybody any free advertising but a really well-known – appliance website that is really amazing on digital, an online one that we all know and love.

But, at the time, I didn’t buy on that journey. What I did was I browsed, it was a great experience. I got home, it was just easier to just fire up my desktop and just press …- you know, it was in the basket, I have an account, it was in the basket et cetera.

Gerry White
One of the things is like the payment gateway. If you’re on a train or something like that and getting your credit cards out and the rest of it. I mean if got PayPal included in the funnel, so you kinda go: ”Ok, one click”.

Dawn Anderson
It’s like a one-click experience, yeah.

Stephen Kenwright
And I think it’s what you’re talking about before, Dawn. I’m also one of those millennials as you say, and then you know I think that there is a real sort of change in behaviour, because I booked my last holiday without going on a desktop, I booked my car without going on a desktop, I’m booking my wedding right now and I don’t even think I looked on my desktop yet. So at no point do I even find that odd.

Dawn Anderson
And you’re probably doing that little bits of research as you go about your daily life because you are young busy professionals, you know? And that is just the way a lot of millennials are now, they are constantly like doing this whole like multitasking. They sit on a train and they’re thinking, ”What can I do to make the best use of this time?”. Research, research, research.

Ned Poulter
I spend spend some money!

Dawn Anderson
Yeah, exactly! You know, a lot of millennials are very driven people.

Gerry White
Websites like eBay and Amazon are very very very bad for train journeys. You kinda go: “Oh, oh, click, oops”.

Dawn Anderson
And now I got a glittery toilet seat on my way here.