This session started off on an interactive note.  “Stand up and take out your phones,” Eli Schwartz said. “I want everyone with an iPhone to put them in the air.” Almost everyone in the full room rose their iPhones above their head.

“Now with that in mind, let’s talk about the mobile first index.” Schwartz said.

In November 2016, Google announced they would shift to use mobile searches first. This meant that if you used a desktop computer you’d be seeing search results as if you used a mobile device (not of course in dimension size).


Well by late 2016, mobile device uses had eclipsed desktop usage. The world went from only being in front of a computer during work, to being connected the whole time we were awake through their smartphone. Mobile devices were being used almost constantly. But the issue here is that companies were not keeping up.

So in November 2017, Google backtracked and moved to what they called a “primarily mobile” approach. Schwartz calls this a “mobile specific” approach. Meaning, Google wants you to have a mobile friendly site that’s responsive and intuitive. They do not want you to have two separate websites, one for desktop and one for mobile devices.

Google is switching their approach because they are still trying to understand how we use our smart phone versus our desktops. For example, we book an Uber through our phone, but most people still online shop on their desktop.

So you’re probably asking “Am I getting penalized for not doing what Google wants?”

Probably not. Google wants to give searchers the results they need. They want to keep people on their search engine, so they won’t be penalizing trustworthy sites for not being the most responsive and mobile-friendly.

Maybe you’re also asking “Well then should I even try to do mobile SEO?”

Well, Schwartz says, like anything in SEO, it depends. What you can do is focus on your audience. Ask yourself- what does my audience want from my content? What devices are they using to view this content?

Schwartz has some tips for where you should focus your attention, and quiet some of your worry around Google’s ever changing algorithm.

#1 Focus on the users, not the engine.

Using the new Google Search Console, you can break down your audience by mobile and desktop. You can do this as well in Google Analytics to help you further understand where you should focus your efforts. Maybe you should have a mobile site, maybe you need an app. But you’ll only know this if you do the research.

#2 Start by using the Google Mobile Friendly Test.

Use this as your baseline and determine what you need to work on.

#3 Keep up (or start) doing regular SEO.

Optimize the titles, meta descriptions, Image alt tags on each page. And finally, make sure you’re using NAP (name, address, phone number) on each page, usually in this information is in the footer of your website

#4 Page speed should be another baseline.

You can view this through a number of tools, including Google Page Speed.

#5 Site navigation should be top of mind.

You want to make sure this fully available and easy to use on a mobile device.

What tools can I use to help me?

Schwartz says his favorite tool to better understand where he ranks is Google Search Console. This is a great place to see how you rank on mobile vs. desktop.  But with all of this advice and strategy there’s one thing Schwartz says you should walk away remember- keep your user top of mind!


Jacqueline Fassett – A Salesforce certified Pardot Specialist, Jacqueline joined Portland-based Idealist Consulting in 2016 with proven experience helping small businesses and nonprofits with marketing campaigns. While she loves all things marketing, her favorite topics are marketing automation, content creation, and email marketing.

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Scott Fish
Scott is the SEMpdx Volunteers Director and works with volunteers to make SEMpdx monthly events, marketing, and member services happen. He's the founder of 32 Degrees Digital, a local Portland digital marketing agency that works with clients that have an experience to sell such has Hotels, Resorts, Non Profits, Symphony Organizations, Sports Associations, Wineries, and other local business franchises.
Scott Fish
Scott Fish
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