Google has taken into account the mobile-friendliness of web sites in search rankings for years. Google also refines the search algorithm hundreds of times a year, in an attempt to understand users and retrieve the highest quality search results for any given query.
Yet on April 21, Google will release one of the biggest algorithm updates in history, one that has the potential to drastically change current search rankings. The update has been coined Mobilegeddon for the heavy emphasis the new requirements will have on the mobile-friendliness of websites. This has the potential to cause webpages currently well ranked to plummet in rankings or even disappear from search results.
“This change,” wrote Google back in February, “will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results.”
Basically, if your website isn’t mobile friendly – you’re in big trouble.
Don’t worry, there is something you can do about it, but you need to act fast. We’ve put together a few tips for how you can pick up your proverbial sword and fight in this year’s mobilegeddon, and battle for a decent search ranking.
Test the Mobile-Friendliness of your Website
“But, guys, I can see my webpage just fine on my phone. I’m good to go!” If this is you and you’re not sure, it’s a good idea to check and see how Google views the mobile-friendliness of your site. Here is a handy tool that will help you do so. All you need to do is enter your company’s website URL, and Google will let you know what they think of your site. If your site is rated as mobile-unfriendly, they’ll give you reasons why as well as some suggestions on how to improve. While this is not as comprehensive of an analysis that a hired professional could do – it’s a start. Feel free to use the tool for other parts of your business, or even for your competitors to see how you match up. If only dating were this easy.
Know Google’s Criteria
Google and other search engines consider many factors when ranking websites. One known factor is the quality and quantity of both written and image-based content. Others include how many websites point to your webpage as a reference, or how frequently your website is mentioned on social media. How your website is constructed, what platform your website is constructed on, and many other considerations are made in how your site is generally ranked.
Now considering mobile-friendliness alone – that’s its own set of factors. How large the text is, too many or unclear images, and site responsiveness overall. Go ahead and take a look at your site on your own mobile phone – do all of the elements reformat automatically, or do you end up with “floating” images that move to different parts of the webpage when zooming in or zooming out. While the Google algorithm is as unknown as who will win the Game of Thrones, here are a few things we know that Google will ding you for in terms of mobile-friendliness:
- Text too small to read
- Links too close together
- Mobile viewport not set
- Uses incompatible plugins
- Content wider than screen
- Sources on page can’t be loaded
Those are just a few but good places to look yourself and fix right away.
Be the Best on Mobile
If your site is mobile friendly, good for you. But like everything else it’s a sliding scale, and better looking sites on mobile will on April 21 get priority. Now if your website isn’t mobile friendly, the obvious answer here is to do everything you can to update your website as soon as possible before your site gets dinged so badly it will take you months or even years to recover. Even if you are a little behind today that’s alright, so long as you’re making changes as soon as possible to catch up.
Search engines are only going to get more sophisticated and complex when it comes to query results. It’s more important than ever to pay attention to what the search engines are looking for and now we know that mobile-friendliness is paramount. If you still aren’t sure where to start, we can point you in the right direction.