Amusingly dubbed 'Mobilegeddon', Google's latest search algorithm update could have a serious effect on your search engine rankings. With mobile optimisation already being a core aspect of modern web design, this is just one of many reminders to keep up with changing customer habits or be left behind.
Why did Google make the change?
With search mobile traffic already outstripping desktop traffic, it comes as no surprise that Google wishes to avoid serving 50% of its users sub-optimal search results. The company's spokeswoman Krisztina Radosavljevic-Szilagyi explains:
“as people increasingly search on their mobile devices, we want to make sure they can find content that’s not only relevant and timely but also easy to read and interact with on smaller mobile screens,”
While the new update will only affect users searching from mobile devices, it could have long-term consequences for businesses that don’t adapt. There is already heaps of data on lost sales dues to lack of optimisation so the new algorithm is an extra blow to sites that are behind the mobile curve.
What does it mean to be ‘mobile-friendly’?
'Mobile-friendly’ or 'responsive' sites adapt to the strengths and limitations of small screens to deliver an optimum mobile experience. Depending on the device and the screen size, this can mean simply re-sizing to fit or switching to a completely different layout. A good mobile-friendly site:
- Loads quickly on mobile devices despite limited memory
- Has large buttons and text that is easy to read on a small screen
- Uses responsive design layouts that automatically adjust the web content to the device being used.
When looking at your website on a smartphone, you should also check the following:
- Is the site easy to navigate?
- Does it draw your eye to the key selling points?
- Is it easy to recognize and activate the call to action?
- Does it provide a good user experience?
- Is it a mobile site you would happily spend time on?
How do I check my website?
Google has made a concerted effort to help site owners with various tools including:
- Mobile usability report: Check for any mobile usage issues on your website’s pages with Webmaster Tools.
- Mobile-friendly label: If your site is missing a ‘mobile friendly’ label in its mobile search description this shows your site has a problem.
- Mobile-friendly test: A mobile diagnostic tool available on Google Developers. Run a test on your homepage and for every main page template throughout your site.
- Fetch as Google tool: Use the Fetch as Google Tool to find out how Google crawls your site.
How much should I panic if my site’s not optimised?
While most brands already know that they need to be ‘mobile-friendly’, there are many ways to embrace mobile. Google prefers some approaches over others so it’s worth exploring options that will prove a win-win for you and your customers and that’s something we can help with.
As it stands, all non-optimised websites will likely see a drop in traffic in the months ahead, as the new algorithm reindexes the web. However, Google has also announced that this update will take place in ‘real-time’, meaning that as soon as mobile-friendly changes have been indexed the benefits will quickly be realised.
So, there’s no need to panic yet but if your website’s not mobile-friendly it’s definitely time to jump on the mobile-bandwagon. If you need a hand getting there please don't hesitate to get in touch.