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Google’s Mobile Algorithm Update

Google’s Mobile Algorithm Update

Google rarely announces updates to their algorithm head of a change. Usually they announce it afterwards or not at all, leaving SEO experts either praising or shaking their fists at the search giant’s updates.

However, Google has announced that on April 21st, 2015 they will be:

“expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.”

The only thing surprising about this announcement is just that, that it was announced. This means that businesses have at least a fighting chance to make significant changes to their websites ahead of the update, rather than scrambling afterwards. This was a good move by Google.

What isn’t surprising is that there will be a significant change to how Google ranks sites in mobile search. This was inevitable.

What to do about Mobile-Friendly Websites?

First things first, do you have a mobile responsive website?

If you don’t, you need to either convert your design to a mobile responsive design, completely redesign your website, or—and this is the least recommended option—have a mobile-only version of your site. There is no other way around this. You need to have a website that is mobile-friendly.

If you already have a responsive version of your site, you still need to make sure that the site is still easy to use. Google has two tools that can help you make sure that your site is mobile-ready.

Mobile-Friendly Test

This tool allows you to test any single page and it will tell you exactly what makes it not mobile-friendly. I’m going to call myself out and show you that my hobby site, cinemafunk.com, is indeed not mobile-friendly, and Google even tells me why.

The site was designed to be mobile friendly years ago, but only for a handful of device sizes. Just so you don’t feel too bad for me, I too am in the process of moving my site over from Drupal 7 to WordPress. It’s not easy transferring 1,000s of pages from one CMS to another!

This image shows that CinemaFunk.com is not mobile friendly.

Here’s an example of a website that is clearly not mobile friendly using Google’s testing tool.

Mobile Usability Report

This tool is a part of your Google Webmaster Tools account, so be sure to log into your account for your website. This Mobile Usability Report warns you about:

  • If your design has a defined viewing area or viewport, and adjusts to the device’s screen size
  • If content forces users to scroll horizontally
  • If fonts scale appropriately
  • If buttons and other links are easy to use and touch
  • If the design is driven by mobile-friendly technology (i.e. not using Flash)

Again, I’m going to use my own site as an example of mobile warnings.

Mobile usability errors for CinemaFunk.com using Google's Webmaster Tools.

Here you’ll see that there are over 500 pages that have mobile errors that can reduce usability.

Even if you have a mobile-responsive site, it’s quite possible you have a few warnings from Google. It’s best not to panic, especially if you only have a handful of warnings. Just have them taken care of in a reasonable amount of time.

Conclusion

This update will certainly make major changes to how sites rank mobile search result pages. Clearly, websites that are not mobile friendly will see less visibility in mobile. Now more than ever your website needs to be accessible to all users on all devices. Not doing so will put your site in jeopardy of losing traffic and favor in Google’s eyes.

Tampa SEO has helped many businesses convert their sites to mobile-friendly versions with impressive results. Contact us if you need help getting your site the mobile visibility your business deserves.

 

Image Source: http://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/321778/CCA_Blog/APR2015/mobilegeddon.jpg

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