Two Indices Where Once There Was One
As the overall index bifurcates into Web and Mobile, the mobile search index results also will split: into those sites which are technically friendly and those which are not. These are principally technical considerations based on user experience, not necessarily keyword-relevance.
Initially, this is likely to lead to SEO confusion as marketers try to allocate scant resources to “Old (Web) Index” vs. “New (Mobile) Index” based on historical ROI. The key difference being that keyword relevance will have given way to an index ranking, the primary consideration of which is engagement relevance.
Web Developer Full Employment Act
The marketing budget consequences from an index update that likely will take only a week to deploy will take a year or more to unfold as companies discover new and interesting ways that their sites are not web-friendly. While the Google Webmaster Tools accounts may only show a handful of error types, including small font size, viewport issues and touch elements too close for use, the compliance cure is likely to be hard to swallow as some sites are dragged kicking and screaming into the ad network’s version of the Mobile Age.
Removal of “Est” from the KPI
Search funnel data now presented as “estimated” will improve as the cross-device “gap” is closed… search attribution models eventually will reflect this change. This should (finally) put Google on a more level footing with Facebook in advertisers’ minds when it comes to tracking multi-device conversions.
New Measurement Tools
A new KPI will come to life: multi-device conversion rate. As Google increases its ability to track individual users across the network by device, marketers will be looking to value individual keywords (and other campaign elements) in a multi-screen environment. This new level of user tracking may also spawn user-based or user type-based engagement and conversion metrics.
The challenge is going to be keeping track of the specific costs incurred and calculating true ROI from advertising efforts that track across channels.
A New Google or Same Old, Same Old
While it is very likely that Google will gain some points – increase its own Q Score, if you will – in the mobile user community, it is at least equally likely that advertisers are going to resent being pushed around by a vendor. One thing is for sure, Google is doing everything it can to remain competitive and to do what it takes to increase its profit margins on the mobile advertising ad format.
It would be short-sighted, however, to think of these index updates as benefiting only Google, though. After all, every time they improve the Web index by cutting back on conditions that favor content farms and other less savory web denizens that clog the SERP, the company takes a substantial revenue hit. In the case of the mobile algo update it is more likely that Google will see both revenue and profit margins rise from mobile ad formats. If that fortuitous happenstance occurs then Google’s 10-K risk factor language may finally eliminate the disclosure regarding under performing mobile ad revenue margins. Which would be a positive for Google shareholders.