Google is at it again, adding an update to its ranking algorithm, giving mobile users what we all want, a better search experience. As of only a few weeks ago, on April 21st, Google launched an update to their search algorithm that uses mobile usability as one of the many factors for search rank. As a result, mobile-friendly, or “responsive” websites will rank higher in Google’s mobile search results, in conjunction with other SEO efforts and standards. These websites scale themselves appropriately for the user, no matter what device they are utilizing, so that all the relevant information is presented in a user-friendly and organized manner.
This update on search improves rankings for sites that provide a mobile-friendly experience to searchers on mobile devices and, by association, demotes sites that are not built with responsive website design. However, this does not come as a surprise; Google reps were quoted saying “When it comes to search on mobile devices, users should get the most relevant and timely results, no matter if the information lives on mobile-friendly web pages or apps” in previous public discussions. Here are a few ways the new update will effect have on your company as well as your customers experience:
A gateway for Businesses
Now for those companies out there who have not optimized their websites to a mobile platform, whether a native or mobile app, or through response web design, this is not great news. However the new algorithm gives companies who have responsive websites a leg up on their competition. This means a smaller firm that has focused on making mobile users their primary market will excel in ways bigger companies are unexperienced with. For example, say you use your smartphone or tablet to search “Men’s Boat Shoes.” The results you find will be organized by relative mobile friendliness of the sites, among other optimizations that help you, the user, enjoy your experience at ease and find exactly what you’re looking for.
Things to consider
You first need to take a step back and realize whether Google categorizes you as mobile friendly or not. Just because the company labels themselves as such doesn’t necessarily put them in the category. You need to remember that Google has 100% control over how the site ranks, but you can impact that control. Google does in fact provide a testing tool in order for your site to see how you stack up in the category. Google then gives you advice on how you can change your format in order to fit the bill.
If you haven’t added your website to Google Webmaster Tools already, you desperately need to, or have someone like us do it for you. This tool helps you see how Google reads or “crawls” your website, if there are any errors on the back end that Google flags your website for, or if there is any information Google may be missing. Among these, is now a mobile usability option, which gives you insight as to whether or not your site has mobile accessibility issues. SEO awareness and maintenance is an important part of maintaining the awareness and rank of your website, but also to clear yourself of any errors, or things like mobile usability issues Google may see, that you may not have.
Avoid at all cost
Google recently released a document called “Avoid common mistakes.” This documents educates webmasters on a few key points to avoid when improving or building a Mobile Friendly site. First and foremost, Google urges you to get rid of slow moving pages. Google has placed a great deal of emphasis on page speed for quite a while now, and that’s’ no different when it comes to mobile usability. Google has provided us with another tool to solve this problem called “PageSpeed Insights.” This allows you what parts of the page are slowing you down and what remedy is available to fix it. Another big “No No” is unplayable content. There is no need to have media on your websites that aren’t supported on mobile platforms (attention to flash!). You want to set a focus on using HTML5 standards for animations, as well as video-embedding that’s playable on all devices to provide a positive experience to all your users.
In the end, we cannot stress how important it is to make the transition to a mobile friendly website with a responsive design. This train is full steam ahead and there’s no turning back. With the latest statistic showing about 80% of today’s web searches coming from a mobile device, it’s time that we help you keep your search engine real estate and build you a responsive website. Have questions about responsive design and how it can work with or impact your current website? Feel free to contact us for a discussion!