4 Steps to Avoid Google Mobile Search “Mobilegeddon”
Google’s new Mobile focused Algorithm was released on April 21st 2015. Oh Sh#*! The date has already come and gone, is it too late for you? The term “Mobilegeddon” has been coined by the industry and it’s intended meaning is that if your website is not 100% mobile-friendly, the Google search engine ranking for your website will get worse.
Not to worry, the term Mobilegeddon may be overstating the issue. Yes, it will impact non-mobile-friendly sites, but there’s plenty you can do fairly quickly. And, keep in mind that this change only affects searches done via smartphone.
We have outlined the action steps you need to take to stay on top of your mobile optimizations. You can find out more about the rollout straight from the mouth of Google: http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.ca/2015/04/rolling-out-mobile-friendly-update.html
You will also want to take a look at our previous post that goes over the basics and the most important resource links such as the Mobile Friendly Test (see if google views you as Mobile Friendly or not).
So what do we know so far? The new Google Algorithm will reward websites that are mobile optimized or “mobile friendly”. Google decides the mobile usability factor based on a yes or no answer, this means you will either receive a check mark or not. Therefore it is important that you optimize your site for mobile as soon as you can. It is yet unknown if sites who are not mobile optimized will be penalized or just not given the “check mark” bonus. In all likelihood mobile friendly sites will be boosted and receive no penalty otherwise. The change will affect over 40% of fortune 500 companies, and likely a large percentage of remaining web pages.
A little overwhelmed? Take a relaxing deep breath and read on, we have done all the work for you. Included is the information and resources that will help you navigate the new wrench Google has thrown at us. But look at it as a wrench of opportunity! You are now able to take a proactive step and prove your website is a cut above the rest.
1. Test Your Current Situation
First we need to get an idea of where you stand in the eyes of Google. We will want to gather as much information as possible so we can make an informed decision on how to tackle this problem…I mean opportunity 😉
You may be saying to yourself “but my site has hundreds of pages and I already spent so much time building it! There is no way I can easily optimize for mobile.” This quote from Google will give you some solace:
“While the mobile-friendly change is important, we still use a variety of signals to rank search results. The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal — so even if a page with high quality content is not mobile-friendly, it could still rank high if it has great content for the query.”
So you may still rank very well if you have great content, but other sites who have been optimized will start to surpass you. Therefore, you should make a long term plan to convert on mobile as soon as you can. It’s not going to happen all in one day and if you don’t know where to start we can always point you in the right direction. Again, realize that desktop searches will not be affected, only those on mobile.
The algorithm applies to individual pages and not entire websites, this presents a slight problem with Google’s mobile friendly test page. It lets you know if Google sees your HOME PAGE as friendly to mobile users, not the entire site. You can either test each page individually using the tool OR if you would like to save time use this handy trick…
Search “site:mysiteexample.com” on your mobile phone and in the chrome web browser (include your own site url of course). This will indicate for each page of your site a “mobile-friendly” tag:
This is especially helpful if you have hundreds of pages, record the ones that don’t show up as mobile-friendly and click to the next page! Much more efficient. Now you know which pages you need to spend the bulk of your time.
Second, you will want to check your Webmaster Tools which will indicate any usability errors. Once logged into Webmasters go to Search Traffic and click on the “Mobile Usability” section (or click here). This information will be useful and lets you know if your font size is too small, your content is not sized properly or your viewport is not configured correctly. Clickable links may also be too close together and hard to tap for mobile users (Google refers to this as your “Touch Elements”). Click the error for more information and to find out which URL the error is associated with.
Stephdokin can provide a more detailed site analysis that will give some insights into your desktop version as well as your mobile usabilty and how you can fix it. We will send you this report free of charge as we want you to succeed in the mobile friendly journey Google has put before us. Pagespeeds does give some insights but it is limited in its usefulness.
The report will point you in the right direction and provide valuable insights. http://seoreport.stephdokin.com
2. Must know Resources
There are a TON of resources to help you get your site mobile ready and friendly. Google nicely outlines the principles of mobile site design in a 25 point study where they focused on 5 categories including: Site Navigation, Site Search, Form Entry, Commerce/Conversions, and the Usability Factor. This resource is highly recommended, some of my favourites include the following:
Navigation: Don’t let promotions steal the show
Site Search: Implement Filters to Narrow Results
Conversion: Link Telephone Numbers for Click to Call
Use this resource to your advantage, Google has created a handbook so we know what is to be done. Make sure to utilize it!
3. Do I need to optimize my website for every type of mobile smartphone?
The short answer is no. But you will want to check to see your site is working on the multitude of models out there. There are a variety of ways we can serve web pages on mobile devices and you may be asking yourself if your site looks good on a Samsung Galaxy S1/2/3? What about an iPhone 5 or 6? We are limited to testing site functionality and design on our own phones right?
Well lucky you, there is a solution you may or may not be aware of. First download chrome if you don’t have it already. Click the top menu: VIEW –> DEVELOPER –> DEVELOPER TOOLS. You are now able to see the users perspective from many different tablets and smartphones. You do not need to worry about the tablet views as they are treated as desktop computers according to Google and with this algorithm update. Worry about your site as viewed on smartphones (FYI: Androids and iPhones makeup 95% of users)
For example here is the view for a Nexus 5:
So now you are able to know how your site will look on a variety of mobile devices, pretty great right?
The last tool we want you to be aware of has to do with how your website is built. The question is: “how does google see my site based on the software I am using?” Click here to see how you can make your site mobile friendly based on your unique backend. Wether it’s Drupal, WordPress, Joomla, Magento or one of the others listed Google helps us all out. The complete list is here:
4. Why do anything about the new mobile search update from Google?
Now why should you care? Why go through all the effort to make your site optimized for Mobile when Google will change things again in the future anyway? The reason is that Mobile is the predominant trend, things have been headed towards mobile for a while. In all likelihood Google’s next Algorithm update may well be mobile focused yet again! So you need to have a plan in place and take the steps towards improving usability on smartphones. How many are actually using mobile to search the world wide web? The answer is a lot, and increasing each day! To be more factual, we are likely going to see over 2 billion smartphone users worldwide by 2016 (article here). That’s quite a few search queries my friend!
Mobile is the future whether we like it or not. It will be the way more and more people interact with the web. Mobile searches will overtake desktop searches this year! This is significant for you, your business and your bottom line. Without a mobile strategy you are essentially throwing traffic/leads out the window. Attracting web traffic is hard enough so make sure you are taking advantage of the entire usage base (mobile users included of course).
At the end of the day your business will be much better off if you gear towards mobile optimizations right now.
Mobile optimization cannot be ignored any longer, texting with our heads down and walking into walls will not be going away. So why not allow for a streamlined mobile experience wether or not the user is safely sitting down or ends up tripping on a curb; either way they could be a potential client. Why not convert them either way? So is this Mobilegeddon? It is if you don’t take action. There are solutions and it’s not as hard as you think. Now let’s get optimizing!