The storm clouds are rolling in, people are running for cover, it’s the end….no, its “Mobilegeddon”.
Google has announced that starting April 21st mobile friendly sites are going to be given search ranking preference. This means that if your site is not mobile friendly, it will potentially be wiped from page 1 to page 100 of Google’s search results.
In a nutshell, having a mobile friendly page is now crucial if you want to maintain and increase your traffic.
Google is usually pretty secretive about their algorithm updates, but perhaps seeing as this is the biggest update in history, the tech giant found it appropriate to warn users-
“We 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 on our search results.”
Google hasn’t really said much else about the changes, but this is what we know for sure:
- Some responsive web designs will not be given ranking benefits
- Mobile friendliness will be determined page by page, not sitewide
- Tablet search results will not be affected
- Google is currently working on a dedicated mobile index
So, what can you do to prepare your business for the update?
1.) Separate Mobile Site Vs. Responsive Site
Constructing a separate mobile site will allow you to exclusively optimise it for mobile users. These sites often have less content and are touch-screen friendly. While this may seem like a lot of work and added cost for your company, you can be almost certain that your mobile site will continue to rank well with these new changes.
Most business today use a responsive web design, which means that your layout automatically configures for both tablets, mobile and desktop versions. Google has stated however, that some responsive designs will not be determined as mobile friendly by their algorithm.
To know if your responsive design fits the bill check to see if your mobile version allows the text to be readable without zooming in, ensure that your links that don’t overlap and are touch friendly and remove any software that is not compatible on mobile devices.
Google has expressed that their recommended configuration for responsive web design is –
“Sites that serve all devices on the same set of URLs, with each URL serving the same HTML to all devices and using just CSS to change how the page is rendered on the device.”
For more information on making your site mobile friendly, visit Google’s information page here.
You can also use Google’s test to see if your site is mobile friendly here.
If you have a responsive web design, you can continue performing your best SEO practices, however if you have a different mobile and desktop version, it could get a little more complex.
Most mobile sites are built on a subdomain, if this is so, you must use canonical tags pointing to the desktop URL for duplicate mobile images. This will prevent duplicate content issues as both the mobile and desktop pages can rank for competitive phrases. You do not need to use canonical tags on unique mobile content.
It is still yet to be determined how far non-friendly mobile sites will be pushed down in search results, but if its anything like Google’s previous algorithm changes, some companies could stand to lose huge amounts of organic traffic and sales.
3.) Your Sales
If you sell products on mobile devices, chances are you are already familiar with your conversion rates but now, it’s going to matter more than ever how easy your mobile site is to shop.
Having a separate mobile site or responsive site is one thing, but having it easy to use and purchase from is also going to effect your rankings.
If you have an e-commerce store, your mobile version should be easy to scroll through and navigate. You should also ensure that your checkout methods are mobile friendly such as offering Apple Pay or Google Wallet.
It is also important that you offer big, bold buttons that make navigating and clicking through your site easy.
4.) Stay Up to Date
Even though you may feel ready, it is very likely that Google will continue to update their new algorithm after it is released. This means that you need to be extremely diligent about staying up to date with your analytics and any changes.
While this may seem daunting, the most important thing to remember is that Google often favours the customer- they change their algorithm to help offer a better online experience. If you adopt this same mentality when it comes to designing your web pages, chances are you will always have a site that is optimised.
The changes Google is proposing are huge and the effects could be devastating for your business, however there are professionals that can guide you every step of the way. Find out more here.