Come April 21st 2015, Google is rolling out a new search engine algorithm update designed to favour mobile-friendly websites. This means that non-mobile-friendly websites will experience a sharp drop in their rankings.
This will translate into a significant loss of income for small Australian business owners who generate decent business from their websites and search engine presence.
Google seeks to provide useful and accurate information to everyone who uses their search engine, across all platforms and devices.
So, if your website doesn’t provide optimal viewing experience to users, chances are it will be dropped in favour of a competitor that does so even if your website offers more accurate information.
Now, unlike the past where Google quietly rolls out its updates and leaves website owners to find out by themselves –usually in the form of traffic loss, lower search engine rankings and even manual penalties- they took the time to inform the public before its update. Here’s more on the announcement.
What does this mean? From our perspective and that of other leading SEOs, it means that the update will be big. In fact, there are rumours in certain quarters that it might affect as much as 50% of all search queries and websites –possibly bigger than the penguin and panda updates combined.
The good news is, if your current website isn’t mobile-friendly, you still have time to correct that before the update is rolled out.
How to tell if your website is mobile ready:
- Your website was developed with codes that are mobile-friendly. So, no flash based sites as they tend to interact poorly with mobile devices.
- You can clearly read the text on the website without zooming.
- The content of your website automatically adapts to the screen so that users need not scroll or zoom in to read your website.
- The links on the website are spaced correctly so that there’s enough room to individually click each link.
You can use Google’s tool here to check if your website is mobile-friendly. Or you can simply conduct a search for your website on your mobile device.
If your website has the mobile-friendly label next to your listing on the search engine, you’re good. If it doesn’t, it’s still not too late. Get in touch with us at eTraffic Web Design and we’ll help you fix that.
The good thing about this is algo update is that it will run in real time. So, even if you’re unable to meet the April 21st deadline, your website’s search engine rankings will be automatically updated once your website is made mobile-friendly.
Of equal importance are some desktop attributes like page load speed, clean designs, internal linking, good navigation and excellent site structure.
For Australian businesses with a separately hosted mobile site (m.xyz.com), this update will most likely hit them too as most mobile sites won’t be considered mobile-friendly.
So, what can you do?
First, you need a responsive website. A responsive website is one that’s designed to automatically adapt to all screens and still display all the information on the desktop site.
Think of it as a full desktop website that displays comfortably on mobile devices. Most separately hosted mobile sites are usually summaries of the main websites.
With responsive design, there’s no summary. The website is simply as is. There’s no difference between what you see on the mobile device and the desktop.
Need Help with Your Responsive Design? Contact us at eTraffic Web Design
Check for Mobile Usability Problems
All website owners often have access to Google’s Webmaster Tools. Look there to see if your website(s) has any mobile usability issues and review it using the mobile usability report tool.
If there are notifications about your website not being mobile-friendly, look at the aforementioned Google criteria for a mobile-friendly site and see if your website complies with them.
If your website complies with all the rules and yet, there’s no mobile-friendly label, file a complaint via the prominently displayed feedback form on the mobile-friendly testing tool or in the Webmaster Tool to inform them of the error.
They know and understand that there are a few errors and will do what needs to be done to rectify them.
Compress Your Images
If you have an image-heavy website, have those images compressed to a smaller size or provide links to them if they clutter your website.
Image-heavy websites tend to lag on mobile devices and can affect your rankings –web pages with slower loading speeds are usually ranked lower than the faster loading pages.
If you need help with compressing your images, try using tools like Online Image Optimizer or Smush.it. They should help reduce their size whilst still maintaining their clarity and sharpness.
Index Your App
If your business has an app, you need to get it indexed in Google’s Play Store and console. First, you’ll have to deep link it, verify your app’s website, and look for any major errors or problems that might arise from making it easy for the search engines to list your app in the SERP listings.
Finally, do not panic because of the update. Continue with your legitimate SEO efforts, work hard to ensure that your website is ranked highly, create more content for your website, and monitor the update when it is rolled out.
If your rankings jump up and down during the week of the update, don’t worry about it. It’s called the Google dance and happens every time there’s an update.
Just wait for a few days for it to even out. It’s perfectly fine. However, if there are still some problems after that, get in touch with our seasoned SEO team at eTraffic and we’ll see how we can help you.