As 2017 begins, the team at Radd Interactive is preparing for the future of SEO. High-quality content and strong natural links will continue to be major ranking factors. However, it is clear that 2017 will be the year of mobile SEO.

Google has been preparing for the rise of mobile for a long time. After mobile search officially surpassed desktop in 2015, Google released the “Mobilegeddon” update, which gave a significant ranking boost to mobile-friendly pages in mobile results. In November 2016, Google also announced that it was starting to test its mobile-first index, which is expected to launch sometime in 2017. Once this new index launches, having a mobile-friendly website will be a crucial ranking factor.

There are several things you can do to prepare for the rise of mobile in 2017. First, you should familiarize yourself with Google’s mobile testing tools and Search Console’s mobile usability reports. These tools will allow you to see if your site is mobile-friendly and give you a page-by-page look at what needs to be fixed.

You should also make sure both your desktop and mobile sites load quickly. Mobile users demand fast results. Over half of mobile users will leave a site if it takes longer than three seconds to load. You can assess your site’s speed and see what needs to be improved with Google’s PageSpeed insights tool.

Your website’s design also needs to be optimized for mobile users. Your home page, site navigation, site search, form entry, and commerce/conversion paths need to be easy to use on mobile devices. Buttons that are hard to tap with a finger, or text that requires users to zoom in to read, create a low-quality user experience on mobile platforms and contribute to higher bounce rates.

Another important step when optimizing for mobile search is implementing structured data markup. Structured data markup, like Schema.org, helps all search engines better understand the content of a web page, which allows them to display more relevant information in their results. Google uses structured data markup to refine its results and to provide rich snippets and answers, which tend to increase click-through-rates. This increase is particularly notable in mobile results, which tend to display rich answers more often in order to provide mobile users with information quickly. Adding structured data markup to your mobile site now increases your chances of receiving a featured snippet, and gives you a competitive advantage of sites that have yet to implement this tool.

Despite the importance of mobile SEO in 2017, we at Radd Interactive think it’s important to remember that having a high-quality desktop site is better than having a broken, low-quality mobile site. So, take your time and continue to optimize your desktop site as you prepare your mobile version.