Just got back from Ezoic.com’s Pubtelligence at Google SF and wanted to share some insights. A Google Webmasters team member discussed some things they’re working on and what they recommend content publishers focus on going forward. Hope this helps guide us all to better rankings, more traffic and earnings!
User experience – Make sure your site’s structured data up to standards https://developers.google.com/…/guides/intro-structured-data. Google’s goal is get their results page bounce rate as high as possible by making results more interactive and intuitive (more video, images, and easy to digest content in results vs. links). The better the user experience of your site and content (fast load times, quality content that users stay on and come back to from other sites, easy to navigate) and easier it is for Google to index (clear structured data such as alt text on images), the higher priority in search.
Mobile – Google will continue to give priority to mobile and has indicated “mobile first indexing” at some point, making it higher priority in search (canonical) over desktop.
Quick mobile facts based on Google data: Mobile usage now more than desktop and will continue to rise globally, especially in emerging markets where they’re skipping desktop straight to mobile. 19 sec is STILL avg. mobile page load time, 77% of mobile sites take 10+sec to load, avg. visitor drop rate is 53% if a site takes longer than 3 sec to load and most of the time with these drops it doesn’t even register in Google analytics. Publishers on mobile make 2x more ad revenue if page takes 5 sec to load vs. 19 sec.
India, Brazil, and Indonesia are fastest growing markets right now (100M NEW internet users last year in India = 1/3 of USA population w/ 800M+ still to go) but the majority of connections are mobile and still 2G. Due to cost of data, mobile pages need to be as simple as possible, fast loading.
Google is putting priority on AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages). Whether you like AMP format or not, it’s going to be much more prioritized in search going forward. They said they’re working on more features, both templates and ad display options to help publishers see similar conversions as they currently do on non-amp mobile pages. They suggest you start with AMP as your main website format w/ desktop second. More info https://ampproject.org
HTTPS – continued huge push and priority given in search for encrypted sites. Starting Oct, 17 Chrome will show all users non-secure warnings for any HTTP site w/ input fields (already being tested). Within the next year or so this will change to show a red warning symbol to the left of URL in Chrome making it painfully obvious to users. ~45% of web still not encrypted. You can encrypt your site for free https://letsencrypt.org/
Progressive Web Apps – will be a huge trend going forward. Combines the best of apps and websites. Allows for offline viewing, push notifications on mobile and desktop which will result in higher interaction and conversion rates with users. https://developers.google.com/…/…/codelabs/your-first-pwapp/