Mobile SEO Prediction for 2018: More Progressive Web Apps

Hand holding Samsung mobile device, with full view of apps on home screen

Where is mobile headed in 2018?

There’s one big trend you can expect to take off in 2018, says mobile SEO expert Cindy Krum, and that’s a movement toward Progressive Web Apps (PWAs).

What is a Progressive Web App?

Progressive Web Apps take advantage of the strengths of both mobile web and mobile apps to create a better experience for everyone. Here’s how Google explains PWAs:

“PWAs eliminate friction by using the web to deliver app-level experiences. There’s no need for consumers to find apps in the app store and install them–they can just navigate to the site on any browser, including Chrome and Safari. PWA techniques focus on reliably loading faster (even working offline) and using less data.”

From a user perspective, PWAs are like websites you can download to your phone and use as seamlessly as any other app, but without an address bar at the top and a serious drain on data. They can be used in offline mode and there’s no need to visit the App Store.

From a brand perspective, there’s less to build, maintain, optimize, and promote since you don’t have to worry about separate code bases, error-prone deep linking between an app and a main website (remember, Google hates errors!), and sorting through muddy referrals and attributions. Fewer headaches, clearer data, happier customers. Now sing it with me, “All I do is win, win, win no matter what…”

Here’s why PWAs will take off in 2018

“[Progressive Web Apps] are a good way to help companies build a bridge between the discoverability of the web and the engagement and satisfaction that users experience with apps, all while minimizing overhead. [T]hey are incredibly attractive to savvy companies of all sizes,” says Cindy Krum.

PWAs are taking off around the world as more and more companies realize that faster is better and “beautiful” matters (two core AMP principles by the way).

The success stories say it all!

  • Twitter Lite, Twitter’s PWA, takes up less than a megabyte, saves up to 70% on data, and loads 30% faster.
    Alibaba.com, the world’s largest online business-to-business trading platform, saw a 76% rise in conversions and four times higher interaction rate after it upgraded its mobile site to a PWA.
  • Beauty leader Lancôme saw a 53% increase in session length and its bounce rates have dropped by a full 10% amongst iPhone users.
  • And it’s not just retailers. The Weather Channel saw an 80% improvement in site load time from its PWA, with almost one million users opting in to receive push notifications.

Looks like winnin’ to me.

Will PWAs be important for SEO?

Apart from delivering a crazy enjoyable user experience, PWAs may prove beneficial from an SEO perspective too, says mobile SEO expert Cindy Krum.

Her research shows that recent changes to the Google Play algorithm (which is much less sophisticated than Google’s search algorithm), point toward a larger focus on app performance, efficiency, engagement, and reviews, and a decrease in importance of app metadata.

“This could be considered a signal of a potential impending merge between Google Play and regular SERPs, since we know performance is an important ranking factor there,” writes Krum.

Also, Google always prefers to recommend and reward the least error-prone options. The deep-linking that comes along with native apps? Super error-prone. PWAs? No need for deep-linking and generally much less error-prone.

So what? In 2018, watch for more fast and efficient PWAs. They deliver amazing user experiences, even when the user has slow or no connectivity. If your brand is investing in a native app, consider a PWA instead. Depending on the functionality you’re looking for, a PWA could be the fastest, most affordable way to reach your customers on their mobile devices.

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