Google are rolling out a Mobile First Index: Is your site ready?

  • Google announces roll out of its Mobile First index algorithm.
  • The update will focus on mobile site versions over desktop versions.
  • Mobile optimised websites will see a boost in organic rankings.

It’s no secret that we’re in the age of mobile, and following the much-anticipated release of “Mobilegeddon,”—Google’s Mobile Friendly Update—search has, quite literally, gone mobile. But what can we expect from these changes?

Back in November 2016, the Google Webmaster Central Blog announced they were dipping their toes into its mobile-first index, with the intention of a global roll out.

As it stands currently, 60% of searches are made from our mobile devices. It makes sense, then, that Google have begun to give priority to sites that are optimized for phones, tablets and any other pocket rocket connected to the nearest Wi-Fi connection.

Until now, website organic SERPs (Search Engine Ranking Position) would be influenced by their SEO, backlinks and quality of content. With the mobile-first index, Google will crawl and then index content that is deemed ‘mobile friendly.’

So, what happens now?

Well, Google will be rolling out this change over the next few months, so no need to panic just yet. However, to make sure that you’re ready for the mobile-first index, there are a number of things that you should consider in the meantime:

1. We’re consuming content on small screens in smaller spaces

With 8 million passenger journeys on the London Underground daily, and 4.3 million people riding the New York subway every day, the way blogs are digested has changed. When you’re looking at your well-constructed marketing content strategy, it might be worth considering what type of content you’re creating. Does it fit well on a mobile screen? Is it easy to access from anywhere?

2. Is your content triggering more senses?

The power of touch screen and assisted touch has pushed content into a new era of interaction. With multiple phone and touch gestures, generating interest and leads is now possible at the touch of a button. If you haven’t already, it might be time to move ‘Calls to Action’ to the top of your next meeting agenda. Basically, your Calls to Action need to offer more than a ‘contact us’ with a link to an email address. Make it easy and engaging for readers to register their interest.

3. People are here for a good time, not a long time

Our attention spans have fallen to eight seconds and it’s looking like that that trend may continue. Here’s a gif of guinea pigs sharing a piece of grass to keep you and your attention span focused.

Mobile first index

The internet generation is a tough crowd to please. It’s therefore key that your website gives your audience what they want, and fast. Having a fast website is no longer just desirable—it’s essential. If your website loads fast and London underground and New York subway riders can consume your content pretty much instantly, then you’re off to a good start. By using Maya, not only can you get a speed measurement for your mobile site, but you’ll know which areas to improve.

4. The GoogleBots are coming

As we’re now all used to, Google sends its bots to crawl your website to determine your organic rankings. If you’ve put in all the ground work to optimize and perfect your mobile site, let Google know! I’d recommend using the Google TXT testing tool to verify that Googlebots can access your mobile site.

5. Users are only responding to responsive

With so much talk of the rise of mobile, it’s unlikely that your site isn’t responsive (your website works across multiple devices). However, if your site only works on desktop, then you need to ensure that your site has responsive design ASAP! If your site works on mobile and desktop, it’s unlikely that you’ll need to make many changes come the Mobile-First index rollout.

Over the next few months, we’ll all see the search results that Google recommends for us are becoming a lot more mobile friendly. Now is the time for you to not only optimize your sites for mobile, but welcome the GoogleBots to your site with open arms (and links) to improve your chances of getting the best index and ranking.

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Is your website mobile ready? If not you have work to do.

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Microsoft Partner marketing: harness the power of a Microsoft MVP

  • Microsoft MVPs are product technology experts within the community
  • How a Microsoft MVP can help with your marketing
  • Tips on reaching out to and engaging with a Microsoft MVP

Microsoft partner marketing is a tough gig. A good marketing professional is always looking for new and effective ways to reach out to customers. This post is about one such method, using Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals (MVPs) effectively. MVPs are Microsoft product technology experts, with a strong sense of community and a desire to help others. Recipients of the prestigious Microsoft award are known for evangelising and educating users across their various product lines. In total there are over 4,000 MVPs across the globe, covering everything from Word to SharePoint, Xbox and Bing. Many MVPs volunteer their time to contribute to the Microsoft community, but many in the development and IT Pro categories work for Microsoft partners. In this post I am going to show you how you can easily harness the power of the MVP(s) currently sitting in your organisation, for your Microsoft partner marketing plans and campaigns.

What is an MVP?

As I stated above, an MVP is someone recognised by Microsoft as being particularly knowledgeable and helpful towards the community for a specific product or technology. The formal definition:

[mks_pullquote align="centre" width="500px" size="24" bg_color="rgba(96, 188, 226, 0.53)" txt_color="#ffffff"]"Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals, or MVPs, are community leaders who’ve demonstrated an exemplary commitment to helping others get the most out of their experience with Microsoft technologies. They share their exceptional passion, real-world knowledge, and technical expertise with the community and with Microsoft."[/mks_pullquote]

Microsoft has recently revamped the award program in an attempt to reduce the number of different MVP categories and align things with the modern Microsoft. Some Microsoft MVP awards are unchanged (like Xbox, Surface and individual Office app awards) but a bunch of new broader categories have been unveiled. These mainly focus on IT Pro and Developer categories.

Each of the above also have specific Contribution Areas. For example, in Office Servers and Services there are things like SharePoint, Yammer, and Skype for Business. You can get full details on the new changes over at the Microsoft MVP website. In this post I am going to focus on how Microsoft partners can harness the more technical and IT Pro focused MVPs working in their organisation. This covers a lot of the categories above, Office 365, Dynamics, SharePoint, and the more development focused disciplines.

What can an MVP do for Microsoft Partner marketing efforts?

So we know what Microsoft MVP is, but how does that help Microsoft partner marketing? Well, you should think of an MVP sitting in your organisation as marketing rocket fuel that you can pour into your campaigns.  Not only are they subject matter experts, able to lend a hand when it comes to the content and targeting of your marketing work, but they are extremely well connected to the wider community. This wider community could themselves be leads or potential customers, but they also tend to be vocal influencers on the web and social media. Think of an MVP as another way to connect with this world. In short, an MVP is an invaluable asset for Microsoft partner marketing.

Here are 5 ways you can make use of an MVP

The MVPs cited below are merely used as examples. Their inclusion in this list does not indicate they are or aren’t involved in any kind of marketing for particular partners. We are merely highlighting them as leading lights in their individual communities. Speak to your own MVP(s) about the items below to see what they are happy and comfortable to get involved with.

Promote MVPs as endorsement of your company

If you have one or more MVPs working at your company, you must be doing something right. MVPs are by their nature bright, committed, technically competent professionals. If they want to be at your company then this speaks volumes about the kind of company you are. So, tell your customers the same! Letting leads and clients know that you can attract this calibre of staff is an awesome way to start many sales and marketing conversations. Easy ways to do this include:

  • Flag them up on your website, in particular staff and 'senior team' pages.
  • Make a noise on LinkedIn when an MVP joins, or share their updates via a company page.
  • Put a 'staff spotlight' in your monthly newsletter.
  • Make sure Microsoft know about your MVPs. Ensure their certifications are registered as part of your partner status.

Leverage the blogging prowess of your MVPs

Here at Fifty Five and Five, we are big fans of quality content marketing: creating content that offers something useful to its readers, that stands on its own merits without being SEO spam or one long sales pitch. MVPs are generally experts at creating this kind of content, in fact it's often what helps them get MVP status in the first place. Microsoft partner marketing can reap huge rewards in this area.

Aileen Gusni is a great example. A long-time Microsoft Dynamics MVP, she maintains a blog of insightful and interesting CRM content. A switched-on Microsoft marketing professional can learn a lot from Aileen and the many other MVPs out there:

  • Cross promote an MVP's existing blog on your company website and social channels.
  • Encourage your MVP to create original content for your own company blog (and cross link from theirs).
  • Ask your MVP to hold 'blogging masterclasses' internally. Like many companies you probably have an army of great bloggers internally, sometimes they just need motivating and inspiring. An MVP is the perfect person to lead this.

Tap into your MVP's social influence

Twitter, like blogging, is another wonderful medium that any modern Microsoft partner marketing campaign can harness. It's a platform where a Microsoft MVP can be an invaluable resource. Take Laura Rogers, otherwise known as @wonderlaura. With over 14,000 followers she has some serious influence when it comes to social. Think about leveraging this sort of following by:

  • Engaging with your MVP's Tweets and followers. Retweet, favourite, and interact as appropriate.
  • Ask your MVP to share company content, but only when it makes sense for their followers.
  • Look at holding an 'Ask the expert' tweetjam, were users can ask your MVP anything via Twitter. Use hashtags to control and promote.

Conferences and community appearances

Another area where MVPs excel is conferences and public speaking. This is also a great opportunity for Microsoft partner marketing. Their involvement in these activities plays a big role in them getting MVP status in the first place. So why not leverage this to help company marketing objectives? Just look at the upcoming speaker roster for the European SharePoint Conference in Stockholm in November. Over 40 of the speakers (nearly two thirds) are MVPs. A conference-bound MVP can help you in a number of ways:

  • Even if they speak as an individual they can raise your company profile.
  • Conferences are all over the world, so why not help them with the logistics of attending and in return ensure they go in an 'official' company capacity.
  • MVP groups are awesome networking clubs. Head out to a show with your MVP(s) and start working some rooms.

Technical and product expertise

And last, but by no means least, your in-house MVP is an expert in what you do or sell. Utilise these skills in the following ways:

  • When putting together a marketing campaign, check with your MVP(s) to see what features or services the potential audience is looking for. They will have the insight into what the market is talking about.
  • MVPs have a close relationship with Microsoft product teams, this intel (even unofficially) can be invaluable to campaign plans.
  • Similarly, MVPs have an insight into future plans for products. It might be under NDA (non-disclosure agreement) or legal binding, but this sort of information can at the very least inform strategy and thinking.
  • Use them to fact-check content and assets before they are used.

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Want to get the most use out of your MVP?

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