Although Google has not released the complete specifications of the algorithm update, it will be the biggest change in quite some time and will have a huge impact on your search results. Where will your website be found? How will your website react to Google’s algorithm change?
It’s coming! Everyone is talking about it! It’s known by several names: “Mobile-Optimization”, “Mobile-friendly”, and yes “Mobile-Geddon”. But just what does this mean and what do you need to do to “survive”, and thrive, the aftermath of Google’s imminent changes to their algorithm for mobile devices?
As we discussed in a previous post “So, What Do You Think a Mobile Device Is?” the term “mobile device” has not been clearly defined by Google. Therefore, the trend has been to make your website friendly for all devices, regardless of size. This technique is known as “Website Responsiveness or Responsive Design”. This will ensure that your customers, or potential customers, can locate your website and navigate the pages without having to zoom in or out, pinching the view, and any number of device-based-gymnastics needed just to navigate your site and find what they are looking for. Chances are they will leave your site in favor of a more user-friendly one provided they find yours to begin with.
Up until recently you could get away without having a Mobile-friendly web presence. One thing to remember is that your website will either be flagged as “Mobile-friendly” or not. There are no degrees of friendliness and this will apply to all pages found within your website. One of the easiest ways to tell if your business website is Mobile-friendly is to simply Google the name of your business using a smartphone. If the website is in fact Mobile-friendly, the first part of the Meta description reads like this:
If it reads “Mobile-friendly”, congratulations, your website is ready to survive “Mobile-Geddon”! Sorry, I just had to use that term once more in a sentence. If your site was not flagged as “Mobile-friendly” here are some things to consider:
- Use a Responsive Web Design RWD (one that is consistent for all devices) for your website or have a separate hosted mobile version of your website. Either is acceptable.
- Google evaluates each page of your site to determine mobile-friendliness. Make certain that you evaluate each and every page of your website using a mobile device to ensure it is mobile-friendly. Look at the over-all user experience; from search, to visiting your site, to task completion.
- Make certain that your website is accessible for Google’s mobile bots to crawl. If it is invisible to Google bots, it may as well not be there.
You can also take the mobile-friendly test here: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/
Will Google find your business website to be “Mobile-friendly”? Will potential customers be able to find your business website after April 21st? More information about responsive web design can be found here. We appreciate your comments.
Google Algorithm Update
Only mobile search results:
The algorithm update pertains only to mobile search results, not the search results you see on desktop or laptop computers. This is an update targeting only the mobile search results in Google and your rankings will only be impacted on mobile devices (if your website is not mobile friendly, that is…).
Making it easier for mobile searchers to find mobile friendly sites:
Google’s objective with the algorithm update is to make it easier for searchers to find relevant websites right from their mobile phone. So if you have a website that’s mobile friendly, Google is going to favor that website in the mobile search results. Conversely, if your website is not mobile friendly, you can probably expect to see less mobile traffic clicking through to your website due to a drop in rankings.
Readable text on mobile devices:
One of the key attributes Google is looking for when it comes to mobile friendly websites is the font size of your text on mobile devices. Google wants to avoid mobile users from having to double tap or pinch out to view text that’s too small. Something common with websites that are not mobile friendly.
Even spaced tap targets:
Mobile screens are small, so if your tappable elements are stacked to tightly, then it’s more difficult for the visitors on mobile devices to decisively tap on their desired elements. So the layout and spacing of your tappable elements are a key indicator to the mobile responsiveness of your site.
Unplayable content on mobile devices:
Perhaps one of the most frustrating things a mobile visitor to your site can experience is a video or presentation that simple won’t play on a mobile device. If you are embedding Youtube videos or Wistia videos, this is typically a non-issue. But many websites have old video embeds that are simply not conducive to mobile devices.
Equally frustrating is when you visit a site from your mobile phone and you have to scroll right or left to read the content. If your content does not conform to a mobile screen automatically, this is a strong indication your website is not mobile friendly. If you have to scroll horizontally to view the content of your website, then you more than likely are “not mobile friendly”.
Affects search results in all languages:
This mobile algorithm update is global – as in, all languages are impacted.
Individual pages are impacted, not websites as a whole:
One thing that people fail to realize is that Google ranks individual web pages, not websites. Look at the search results for any query and you see, in the green URL’s, individual pages from websites, not just homepages. As such, Google’s update will only impact only the pages within your website that are not mobile friendly. However, in most cases, if one of your pages is not mobile friendly, then it’s probably the case your entire website is not mobile friendly. Not always the case, but certainly in most cases.
High quality, non-mobile friendly sites, can still rank high:
Because Google’s algorithm looks first at the searchers intent and ranks pages according to the relevance of the search query, websites with high quality content that are not mobile friendly can still rank #1 – even outranking all of the mobile friendly sites, but with less quality in the content.
There’s still hope for your non-friendly website:
Finally, even if your website is not mobile friendly right now, you can still take the necessary steps to make your site mobile friendly and get ranked on mobile devices. Once you update your website, Google will crawl, index, and account for your new mobile friendly pages. One way to expedite the re-crawling and indexing of your newly mobilized pages is to use Google’s fetch to index tool in Google Webmasters. This will help to bring Google crawlers back to your site quickly to reindex your updated pages. Of course, your site needs to be added to Google Webmasters first in order to use this tool. But you can do that here.