Posted by Penny Baldwin-French
on Thu, Apr 16, 2015 @ 12:20 PM
Okay, relax, it's not MOBILEGEDDON!
There's always a frenzy surrounding any Google update. And this one's supposed to be a biggie.
Astoundingly, Portent scanned 25,000 of the top sites and found 10,000 of them are not mobile-friendly.
Pretty hard to understand, given that volume of mobile search has reached remarkable heights. Pretty scary when we read that one of 10,000 failed sites is – wait for it – The Department of Homeland Security (and 40 other government sites). Portent's summary infographic is titled (somewhat tongue in cheek we think) GOOGLE-MOBILE-POCALYPSE! Nope, not in our opinion, but their infographic is a great summary.
On April 21st, Google will begin rolling out its new standards, which will require that websites be mobile-friendly or be penalized in search results. (Penalties will be on a page-by-page basis, not all-encompassing.)
Google's mobile friendly algorithm is expected to focus on mobile compatibility and mobile app connectivity. The aim is to enhance the user experience, creating a rich online experience on mobile devices.
Google has hinted that the new mobile-friendly ranking algorithm will be even bigger than the Panda and Penguin updates, stating the update "will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results."
So make no mistake – these changes will influence how websites are designed and how content is presented on mobile devices.
Now, take a deep breath. Even if your site isn't totally responsive, there are some things you can do to start "getting your mobile ducks in a row".
Begin with keeping up with the times – All the time
Let's get some background. This new algorithm should not come as a shock and it's just not a good plan to ignore trends and stats. The evidence is in folks. More people are using mobile devices than ever before. There are now roughly 200 million more mobile users worldwide than desktop users, according to comScore. Google's new algorithm will force websites to adapt to these new usage trends.
We all know that positive user experience is essential, no matter what device they are using. This is especially true of the mobile user experience. Who wants to deal with the headache of a non-optimized site? That's right! No one! If your site isn't responsive and properly optimized – your abandonment rates will soar. Frankly, lack of a positive user experience will benefit your competitors, as your frustrated visitors seek out a more pleasant and rewarding user experience.
Now would be a great time to perform a competitive analysis. Take a good hard look at what your competitors are doing – right and wrong. Then, make improvements to ensure your user experience is the best possible.
In order to be looked upon favorably by Google, your site must be responsive to different screen sizes, properly configured and be able to be viewed on a variety of devices.
Tip for the future. Stop thinking of mobile experience as being simpler – a reduced version of your desktop site. It's time to realize that your audience expects a rich experience no matter what device they are using!
Step 1: Verify your site is mobile-ready
First things first. Before you freak out about the upcoming changes, you can start by determining if your website is mobile-friendly. Or the degree to which it isn't and what needs to be done about it! One of the easiest ways is to start with the source – Google. Here are three quick ways to check if your site is deemed mobile-friendly:
- You can check your site's SERP appearance by doing a Google search. Some sites already say they're mobile-friendly right in the search results.
- Use Google's Mobile-Friendly Test. Simply enter your URL and within seconds you'll know if your site is up to snuff. Hopefully, you'll be greeted with an "Awesome! This page is mobile-friendly". But if not, you can at least identify the non-compliant areas of your site that you need to fix.
- You can get an even more detailed analysis of your site by using Google Webmaster Tools.
There are other options that are worth checking out as well. W3C mobileOk Checker, from the World Wide Web Consortium, offers a more technical analysis of your site.
Give us a call and we'll give you a free marketing impact assessment, specifically rating your mobile readiness and the effectiveness of your other marketing strategies (blogging, social, SEO).
Step 2: Focus on fixing some common errors
If you do find out that your site isn't mobile-friendly, here are some things you might need to fix:
- Content may be too wide for the screen. Seriously, who wants to scroll side-to-side to see your content?
- Tiny Text. Phone screens are small. You don't want your site visitors to have to squint or zoom in to read our words.
- Links are scrunched together. You want to make it easy for someone to tap a link with their thumb.
- Mobile viewport isn't set. So depending on how the device is held, the page may not be upright. (A responsive design automatically adjusts the orientation.)
Step 3: Always improve the mobile experience
Perhaps the most important thing you can do to make your site mobile-friendly is to make it easy for your site visitors to consume. The emphasis should be on a positive user experience.
You don't need to over-complicate things. Well-designed mobile sites are easy to read, navigation links are easy to tap and images are properly sized. It also helps to be consistent in your interface and have a cohesive experience across all devices.
Here are some helpful tips straight from Google Developers to help you create a well-designed mobile site:
- Make your call-to-action easy to discover
- Keep menus to the point
- Make it easy to return to the home page
- Your site search should be easy to find
- Design efficient forms with the simplest input method
- Make product images expandable
- Keep user in a single browser window
- Make it easy to complete an action on another device
Additionally, Google "recommends using a responsive web design over other design patterns". With responsive web design, you use the same URL and code for all of your sites, so you only need to maintain one version of your site. It automatically adjusts the display to various screen sizes, so you're good to go on the mobile front.
Wrapping it all up
When people use mobile devices, 48% of their searches start on search engines (according to a study by Google and Nielsen), so you can ill-afford to ignore Google's impending update. With a few steps you can ensure that your site is mobile-ready and help your pages rank higher in Google's search engine.
We've recently read that Matt Cutts once opined we should change the way we think about what SEO stands for. Instead of Search Engine Optimization, we should think of it as Searcher Experience Optimization. He's right! Your success is dependent upon audience perception. Give them a good experience and they'll come back for more!
Don't fret. If you do happen to miss the April 21st deadline, all is not lost. Once you make your site mobile-friendly, Google will recognize that immediately.
PS. There are lots of other things you can do to improve the friendliness of your online marketing. WhiteSpace is always happy to provide a free marketing assessment and chat with you about achievable, sustainable improvement.
Call Murray Sye @ 416 449-9559 Email: email@example.com
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