Google’s mobile friendly update and you

 

mobile phone - mobile friendly Google update

Now that Google has begun to roll out its mobile friendly update lots of people could find themselves panicking about losing masses of their web traffic because they don’t have a mobile friendly website. This can only be being amplified by the coverage in the media and the dubbing of it as “mobilegeddon”.

The first thing to do is to see how much traffic you could potentially be losing. There is a great post here that shows you how to check in Google Analytics. If you aren’t going to lose much traffic and are not concerned you don’t need to rush a solution. If you stand to lose a significant amount of traffic or revenue from that traffic it will be good to get your site mobile friendly as soon as possible. The good news is that there are some potentially quick solutions out there and this isn’t a traditional penalty. Once your page is mobile friendly again it should once more rank higher.

Buy a new theme for your CMS

If your website runs on WordPress or other common content management systems there may be free themes that you can add to your website, upgrading it to mobile friendly instantly. If you want a higher quality one or a more unique choice there are plenty out there to buy on websites such as Theme Forest; where you can buy themes for 40-50 dollars. With many of the theme demos you can test them on the Google Mobile Friendly test before you buy. On theme Forest and other websites you can buy themes for WordPress, Drupal, Concrete, Joomla and many more including e-commerce platforms.

Theme Forest

Disclosure: Above is an affiliate link that cost’s no extra – Link without referral code here: http://themeforest.net/

You can get free WordPress themes here. Check their demo to make sure that they are mobile friendly.

Update individual pages

If your website only has one or 2 key landing pages a temporary solution could be to make just those mobile friendly. Doing this would be sufficient enough to tick the right boxes for Google although it would give a variable degree of user experience to your visitors. It would retain any search positions though for those pages, which could buy you enough time to come up with a full solution.

Whichever solution you choose once you have made your page mobile friendly request that Google fetches your web page, it should then craw your site and hopefully recognise that the page is now mobile friendly.

Image credit: Johan Larsson.

 

Should you be complacent with a mobile friendly badge for your website?

mobile devices

On April 21st Google will heavily impact search results for mobile users leaving many website owners scrambling to tick the mobile friendly box, but the question is that is having a page that passes as mobile friendly enough and should you be complacent?

Google has dropped a few pretty big hints that the speed of your website could become really important:

The slow tag in SERPs

Google has been testing showing a slow tag on its search result pages for mobile users. This could be really useful for people who are trying to find information while browsing on a mobile device via their mobile phone network. I expect that this could come into effect on or soon after April the 21st. This may not be a penalty but could severely impact click through rates.

Google launches a new light version of its website

Google sent a clear message about their dedication to mobile users by launching a lighter version of their website that will show for mobile users with slower speed connections. By showing for only people on slow connections it is clear that they are measuring user speeds and it is not unreasonable to expect that they would not show websites that they (Google) deem as slow to these users.

So what should you do?

Well the first thing that you should do is not to be complacent. In the past people have often ridiculed SEO’s asking for speed improvements to websites, and in some cases it is just stupid to fret over 0.03% improvement on some issue to improve a Google page speed score. But you should definitely look to make sure that your website is as mobile friendly and efficient as is practical to do so.

Common issues that seem to slow websites down significantly are:

  • Images that are not optimized for mobile. A full size image reduced to size to fit still needs the full file size to be downloaded. Ideally you should set up your website to show smaller file size images for mobile and tablet devices.
  • Remove any unused tracking scripts. Often it is third party scripts that slow down a website’s load time. It is easy to add a few for tracking, and then one for usability studying etc. It is important to look at reducing these, especially if they are no longer being used. You may look at one and think “Oh it’s only 150ms that it is adding to the page load” but that multiplied for users on a ropey mobile connection could be the straw that broke the camel’s back.
  • Minify and concatenate all of your JavaScript and CSS files. This can make websites load much faster and require less data. Lots of websites neglect to do this which is a shame as they are crippling themselves.
  • Enabling compression – This can be done easily with plugins or by editing the htaccess file.

My website doesn’t get a lot of mobile traffic why should I care?

If you don’t get much mobile traffic you may need to worry less about the update on the 21st for the immediate future but if your website relies on traffic that comes from search engines you need to ask yourself this: Where do you think it will stop? It won’t be too far into the distant future when a website that is fully responsive and mobile friendly will be deemed as higher quality than an equal site that isn’t.

So should you be complacent with a mobile friendly badge? No, I don’t think so unless you have done all that you can to ensure that your website is as fast and friendly as possible, or you could find your sit being beat by others who have similar quality content websites that have gone the extra mile.

Google announces doom date for non-mobile friendly websites

 

mobile devices

Google has announced that websites that aren’t mobile friendly will not rank as high on mobile search results from April 21st 2015. Google has made the announcement ahead of an algorithm update for the very first time, stating that websites that aren’t mobile friendly will be significantly impacted by the new update.

The news was announced on Google’s Webmaster Central blog on Friday stating that:

Starting April 21, 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 in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.

If you are not sure whether your website is mobile friendly you can check it using Google’s mobile friendly testing tool. The news by Google isn’t entirely unexpected although the short delay between the search giant’s earlier hints detailed in my previous post. This could leave many website owners scrambling to commission new responsive websites, which is ultimately great news for mobile users and web design companies.

My advice to website owners is to check your Google Analytics or other statistic platform and see what percentage of your traffic is from a mobile device. This will help you to build a clear picture of the potential impact on the 21st of April to you and your business. It is also worth taking regular records of your current website rankings on mobile and desktop devices so that ou have a benchmark to compare against after the update.

I personally think that while Google have said that it will affect mobile search results, it will ultimately contribute to the quality rating of the website in all results eventually. This is conjecture on my part but I am confident that this will eventually happen.

Image credit: Google

Now is the time to make sure your website is mobile friendly

Do you know how much of your Google search traffic uses mobile devices? Lots of website’s could lose that share of traffic soon after Google began mass emailing web-masters to notify them if their websites are not mobile friendly. The message sent out is unmistakable – make your website mobile friendly or it wont rank as well in mobile device search results.

Google-mobile-friendly-webmaster-warning1-800x480

 

These pages will not be seen as mobile-friendly by Google Search, and will therefore be displayed and ranked appropriately for smartphone users.

These messages are likely to cause panic among businesses concerned about the loss of traffic, or the potential opportunity to gain a place or two against competitors. People reacted strongly to the HTTPS warnings, although that was fuelled by companies looking to exploit the warning to sell more certificates and SEO work hours. No doubt this recent news will be used by every company pitching a responsive design to clients for months to come.

Unlike the HTTPS warnings by Google, which I think are pointless for man websites I think this is a bold and good move, as it could really help to drive websites to update improving the user experience for everyone. Lots of businesses have already been moving to responsive designs as they see their mobile visitors numbers grow.

What should I do if I get this warning?

If you have received this warning you should first evaluate how many of your pages are deemed not mobile friendly. If you have little to no mobile traffic you may not need to worry quite yet, however that could also highlight a need to improve your site anyway!

If you have a large portion of mobile web traffic, you should really get your website sorted as soon as you can, especially if it is a revenue generating website.

I would then look at getting your website re-made to be responsive if you deem it to be worth your while. If you have a WordPress blog or similar there are loads of free themes available to use.

Other implications

I may be a bit cynical but if I was flagging a site as being non mobile friendly, I would also reflect that in the sites global quality score. Google haven’t said that they will do this, but I personally think that it will become yet another of the hundreds of ranking factors contributing to your site on all platforms.

Google have made a statement and I really advise you all to plan now and react, before it is too late. They have made a really strong statement, with action surely to follow.