The world of search engine optimisation is always changing, and with Google’s latest algorithm update, it is about to change it again in much bigger way than either Penguin or Panda. Experts are already anticipating a large change that will affect mobile-friendly websites and especially those not-so-mobile-friendly.
With this new update, mobile-friendliness will become a ranking signal when someone uses Google on a mobile device, which means that non-mobile-friendly websites will be ranked lower than those that are responsively designed.
Not sure what this means for you or your website? Keep reading to find out what this algorithm update means for you and how you can increase your website’s searchability.
Details on the mobile algorithm update
When was the last time you searched on a mobile device? Chances are you were in the last few days. According to the most recent data, 25 percent of Internet users across the globe accessed the Internet through their mobile device. By the end of 2015, experts estimate that there will be approximately two billion smartphone users on the planet. In 2014, it was recorded that the number of mobile devices on the planet outnumbered the number of humans on the planet by almost 600 million.
This means that people are using more than one mobile device on a regular basis, and Google’s next algorithm update is meant to plan for this by rewarding websites that make it easier for mobile searchers to use their websites.
Most users can tell a mobile-friendly website from a not-so-mobile friendly site. They usually have to zoom in on the page and swipe from side to side just to be able to read the page’s content. The links on the page are so small that people often get frustrated when they accidentally press the wrong links. In short, the experience is downright miserable, and Google is looking to push these sites down in favour of more modern responsive sites.
When you search on Google right now, each search result will tell you whether or not the site is mobile friendly, but by 21 April (Google’s new algorithm’s launch date), non-mobile-friendly sites will actually be pushed down and mobile-friendly sites will be ranked higher.
Who will be affected the most?
All sites will be affected equally in this update, and it is important no matter your company’s industry that you make sure your site is mobile-friendly, but some businesses may see a more direct effect than others.
Restaurants, pubs and other food joints, as well as shops may be drastically affected, especially in tourist areas. When tourists and other visitors search for food or something to drink, they usually go with the top five search results. If your site is not mobile-friendly and your competitions’ sites are, you might be pushed further down in search results.
The same can be said for shops. People looking for clothing stores or other specialty shops will use the top search results, and if your site is pushed down because it is not mobile-friendly, then you could miss out on a lot of traffic and sales.
Other industries may be affected by this as well. In the past, it was estimated that 75 percent of users never went past the first page of search results. Even if you are currently on the first page right now, your site could be pushed down to the second or third if it is not mobile-friendly, and until it does, it might never reclaim its spot.
How to tell if your site is mobile-friendly
In order to be considered mobile-friendly, your site needs to have a responsive website design. This means that you have one site that is able to appear as is on any device, no matter the screen size. Non-mobile-friendly sites have two or three versions of the same site, which means Google has more to catalogue and index. Creating more work for Google pushes a site down in search results, so it is important to have a responsive website if you want to please Google.
If you are unsure whether your site is ready for the algorithm update, there are plenty of free tools you can use to test out your site. It is recommended that you try several of these tools as they may show you varying results, giving you a better idea of what is or is not working.
One of the best free mobile-friendly test software to use comes from Google itself. Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test should be your first and last stop. It is best to test with the one who will eventually decide if you are mobile or not, and from there, you can choose a few other mobile-friendly tests to see if you can find any other problems. Once you think everything is ready to go, you should test with Google one last time to ensure that your site is ready to go.
If Google Mobile-Friendly Test gives you a green banner, your site is good to go. If you receive a red banner, your site needs a little work. Google will usually offer a few explanations as to why it failed your site. Some of these reasons could be:
- Text is too small: You are not creating a site for ants, right? The average person needs to be able to read your site without holding their devices centimetres from their faces.
- Content does not fit the screen: If your users need to resize their browser screens before they can even browse through your site, you do not have a mobile-friendly site.
- Links are practically atop one another: Users need to be able to easily click on one link at a time, the way they would if they were on a desktop or laptop computer.
Google continually updates its algorithm to meet the changing ways that people search on the Internet. As such, company websites need to keep up with the changing times as well if they want to attract today’s modern consumer. Optimise your site for the mobile-friendly crowd, and you will be set for the latest Google update.