Website Marketing in 2018: 5 Ways to Win Big with Google

At the beginning of 2018, Google made a big change in how it used its data to rank websites. It's called Mobile-first Index. That and other factors discussed in this article are worth paying attention to (and acting upon) to help your business website perform well this year. Your time is valuable, so let's get started.

5 Key Factors that Take Advantage of Google’s New Algorithm

First, since its beginning until early this year, Google used data it collected from searchers’ behaviors on desktop computers (in its algorithm) to rank websites. But in the last 5+ years, as Google observed more and more people accessing the internet through their mobile devices, while fewer used their desktops, Google has worked on its new algorithm. This new method ranks websites based on searchers’ mobile activities to deliver a more relevant result on And, in early 2018, Google has slowly rolled out this major change which it called Mobile-first Index. (Note: Since November 2016, Google has already begun testing the Mobile-first index to prepare for this.)Website Marketing in 2018: 5 Ways to Win Big with Google

Mobile-first Index mostly covered these 3 major factors which Google highly recommends you do for your website:

  1. Make your website mobile responsive, so it’s easy for visitors to navigate no matter which computing device they use to pull up your site.
  2. Optimize your website to load fast, especially when people pull up your site on their smartphones. Your website should take less than 5 seconds to load.
  3. Adjust your web content so it’s reader-friendly. I would say shorten the titles of your articles and lay out your text in small paragraphs of 100 words or less, instead of paragraphs of 300+ words.

If your website is yet mobile responsive, Google will index the Desktop version of your site instead, but Mobile-version is now Google’s priority.

Second, one significant factor was given heavy emphasis. Google watches how people behave right before and right after they click on the blue link on to go to your website. If a significant percentage of people scroll pass your listing on without clicking on it, or if after they clicked to your website, they exit quickly (high bounce rate), Google would deem that web page irrelevant to what searchers wanted. Thus, this factor will negatively affect your ranking for that specific keyword. This leads us to see how important the next topic is.

SSL Certificate

Third, in early 2017, Google recommended that people who have e-commerce websites or sites that required login information should install an SSL certificate on their websites to protect visitors. For those non-HTTPS sites, the Google Chrome browser will mark these sites as “Not Secure.”

More emphatically, in 2018, Google announced that all sites should have SSL to protect visitors. Those sites that have yet to migrate to SSL will be marked as “Not Secure,” effective July 2018. Further, since a large percentage of people use Chrome as their browser, that “Not Secure” message will definitely cause a large portion of searchers to avoid your website. Therefore, this is a must-do, top-priority task to minimize any unforeseen damages to your website efforts going forward.

Fourth, what do consumers usually expect to see when they pull up a business website? Today, people expect a legitimate business to have a professional looking website that provides just enough information, so they can decide whether the content is relevant to them or not.

You should know that as the screen size of your customers’ computing devices gets smaller, their attention span gets much shorter. Thus, on average you have less than 10 seconds to grab their attention with your “initial information” that prompted their search.

I’m not talking here about your site loading in less than 10 seconds. I’m talking about “addressing” the information your visitors need in the first 10 seconds, so they can decide to stay or not. One new fact that you should know is that the majority of today’s consumers search and interact in bursts of minutes, if not seconds. When you are out and about, just observe how people use their mobile devices, and you will see a typical behavior:

People on their smartphones

  1. When people wait at a fast food stand, gas station, clinic, etc. they pull out their phones to take advantage of those few minutes.
  2. Sometimes as people are doing something, they get a notification on their phone and they go to it for a few minutes, then get back to what they were doing. This happens many times throughout their day.

In fact, just with teenagers alone, research has shown that, on average, teenagers text over 100 times a day. Yes, you read it correctly. And remember, teenagers will soon become young adults, who gradually and most likely, could become your customers.

So, what are visitors usually looking for when they arrive at your website? As humans, we are the mammal of habit. We look for what will benefit us or solve our problems. And, when your visitors’ attention span is very short, you need to address those needs right away. That means instead of showing a lengthy introduction about your company and its specialties at the top of your Home page, show this information right out of the gate. But make sure your content is clear and simple:

  1. How your services can help them (your target audience), or the common issues you often solve for clients like them.
  2. A few testimonials from your past clients. Plus, also get your Google Reviews up to an average of at least 4 stars.
  3. A brief introduction about what your business specializes in, with an easy way to contact you. Especially on smartphones, your website should have a one-touch-on-your-phone-number to call you. You don’t want to make qualified customers manually enter your phone number or make an effort to find it while on their smartphones.

When a visitor is within your target market, in that first 10 seconds, s/he should recognize the benefits you can bring to him/her, while positive testimonials from past clients further increase his/her confidence in your capabilities and professionalism. And only then will s/he stay longer to learn about your business and specialties. Let’s drill down one level further to see how important these things are to your business.

To clarify, we can pretty much divide consumers into these 3 groups:

  1. Tech Awareness: those who occasionally access the internet, use email or websites.
  2. Tech Savvy: those who use the web to work and socialize.
  3. Tech Dependent: those who feel “unproductive,” “powerless,” or even “incomplete,” without their computing device connected to the internet. And I confess, I am one of those people.

The point I want to make here is that if your customers (or the decision maker) belong to the group Tech Savvy or Tech Dependent, the changes we have recommended are critical to your website marketing success. In fact, the sizes of these two groups are getting larger and larger every year, which is all the more reason to prepare your business for an effective website.

Mobile Users

Fifth, how do you stand out among an ever-growing ocean of brochure websites? To increase the chances that your website will stand out, you need to provide more helpful information to your target audience in addition to the things mentioned above. You need to demonstrate your specialized knowledge with helpful content, like this article you are reading or in graphical and video formats.

Then, share your helpful content on websites and social media to create awareness for your business. I know some of you are in the type of businesses which you can’t legally share your trade content. In that case, I would recommend you find companies which provide products or services that complement yours and piggyback on their content.

For example, if your business is a law firm that specializes in family law which handles divorce cases, you can piggyback on the content of websites that help people sell houses. A portion of their audience will be your potential clients.

In conclusion, we all want our websites to stay in good favor with Google’s search engine and become the provider of choice as customers search for products and services related ours. But to get there, these are critical things you should do first for your business website.

Now you know the 5 key factors, which, if implemented, will make this big “shake up” from Google work FOR you. It’s a winning strategy. You can even take this opportunity to outrank your competition on a number of keywords and boost your sales. I hope you find this article helpful. If you do, please share it with others on your social media pages, so this article can achieve its mission of helping businesses prepare for a successful year. Thank you!

Phong T. Nguyen

BA from St. Olaf College
MBA from University of St. Thomas
SEO from "the School of Hard Knocks."

Phong is the president and marketing director of ProWeb365, a digital marketing company in Minnesota, where Phong leads a team of talented web designers, web developers, and online marketers/SEOers who are passionate about helping businesses and organizations with their online marketing needs; from designing professional websites to marketing them intelligently for a longer lasting result. For a free consultation, please contact our Minneapolis web design firm today. Thank you!