pedestrians walking down a busy street, some on mobile phones
PHOTO: Eloise Ambursley

Google has officially rolled out mobile-first indexing. Surprised?

You shouldn’t be.

The market has spoken: A study by Google and the Boston Consulting Group shows that 50 percent of B2B search queries are made on smartphones, and that figure is expected to continue growing. And with 52 percent of worldwide website traffic coming from mobile in 2018, it’s easy to see the direction things are headed.

Welcome to Mobilegeddon.

This shift toward mobile is creating all sorts of urgency (if not outright panic). That’s because many businesses large and small are stuck in old ways of engaging with their customers. Specifically, they are failing to create and surface relevant content throughout the customer journey. Think Borders. Think Toys R Us. Think Remington.

Related Article: Mobile Is the Journey

Feed the (Mobile) Micromoments With Microcontent

So, how do other companies avoid a similar fate?

Well, the Google Search Console Mobile-Friendly Test can certainly give you an idea of how mobile-friendly your website is today. But being mobile-optimized is only half the battle. The challenge is really about embracing a broader content philosophy — the way you approach the creation, management and dissemination of the content that customers demand.

Because there’s a fundamental driver behind Google’s decision to elevate the mobile search experience, and it is this: We carry our smartphones everywhere — the grocery store, big-box stores, our cars. According to Google, 68 percent of smartphone users say they check their phones within 15 minutes of waking up in the morning. This tendency has paved the way for a relatively new phenomenon: micromoments.

Micromoments are those brief instances when we’re prompted by some unseen force to reach for our smartphones — to verify information, search for answers or vet a potential purchase. “This new laptop looks pretty nice,” we say to ourselves. “But before I drop two grand on it, let’s see what other people are saying about it.” Or maybe, “Let’s see what kind of support experience I can expect if I do become a customer.”

70 percent of smartphone users who bought something in a store first turned to their phone for information about that purchase.
— Think With Google

This is the modern self-service experience. And we feed these micromoments with “microcontent” — quick, easily digestible snippets of information that show up exactly when and where we look for them, via Google or Bing searches or our voice assistants (Alexa, how do I ...?). Micromoments and mobile go hand in hand (literally), and they’re ubiquitous throughout the customer journey. If you fail to extend your content into your customers’ micromoments, you will have a recipe for mass exodus, à la Toys R Us, Remington and Sears.

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Optimize for People, Not Smartphones

For companies that fail to adapt their content strategies to this new paradigm, it won’t just be web traffic, search positions and brand messaging that suffer. They will turn away the very people driving their most important metrics and business objectives.

Their customers will move on to the next best thing.

It’s crucial, then, to optimize our content not necessarily for the micromoments themselves (that is, machine-generated algorithms), but for the people driving those moments — the people pulling out their phones and interacting with the content. Our customers and prospects. This will put the search and navigation experience into a new perspective, perhaps revealing new areas for optimization.

The need to optimize content for people will also inform a broader, self-service-first, customer-centric content strategy that prioritizes direct customer engagement.

It will put key website metrics, such as time spent on our sites, click-through rates and conversions into perspective, too. Rather than staring blindly at their bounce rates, for example, companies need to ask themselves how Mobilegeddon is exposing shortcomings in their content strategies — how their content strategies themselves may be quietly creating these bounces. Is content locked away from consumers in PDFs? Because when mobile users hit siloed PDFs, they’ll likely bounce (not to mention the fact that a siloed PDF will elicit a rankings ding from the Google gods).

With the scales now tipping toward mobile users, mobile is an experience that no modern business can afford to ignore, especially those that expect to be around in five or 10 years.