When Google’s latest update rolls out on April 21, will your site be one of the winners or left in the dust? Mobile devices now account for 60 percent of the traffic on the web, according to a report from comScore, and Google is taking steps to ensure the best possible search experience for users of these devices. Google introduces a major mobile search change with their algorithm update on April 21, when they expand their use of mobile friendliness by adding it to their list of ranking signals. Designed to make it easier for users to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices, the update examines several key metrics to determine websites’ suitability. Does your site have what it takes to pass Google’s new mobile-friendly standards? Let’s take a closer look at the factors the update will take into consideration, and answer some of the pressing questions you may have about the update.
How does Google’s mobile-friendly algorithm work?
Google’s efforts to improve the search experience of mobile users actually began some time ago. Last November Google began adding a “mobile-friendly” label to their mobile search results to help users quickly identify sites that they could easily view and access. Google’s upcoming update takes the emphasis on mobile-friendliness a step further when it installs it as a ranking signal. Once the update goes into effect, any web pages that do not function well on all devices will be penalized with a low ranking on mobile searches.
This update makes it imperative that you meet Google’s mobile-friendly guidelines as soon as possible in order to keep your company visible to mobile users. If you are able to make all the needed changes to your website before April 21, your website’s ranking should be unaffected. If you are unable to have your entire website optimized by the April 21st deadline, don’t panic. There are two key aspects of Google’s mobile-friendly algorithm that work in your favor:
- The algorithm will evaluate mobile-friendliness on a page-by-page basis. This gives you a little breathing room with the fast-approaching deadline. You can concentrate on getting the most important pages of your website optimized before the algorithm goes live on April 21, then update the rest of your site at a more realistic pace.
- The algorithm will be running in real-time. Changes to your webpages that miss the April 21 deadline will not have to wait for weeks or months to be counted. Any updates you make will be recognized by Google as soon as it crawls your page; by uploading each page of your site as soon as it is optimized for mobile, you can minimize the damage from lowered search rankings.
What does Google consider a mobile-friendly website?
A mobile-friendly website can be easily viewed and used on any device. It should provide smooth navigation and a frustration-free experience whether it is accessed using a desktop, smartphone, tablet, games console, or wearable technology. There are five main elements that Google considers when judging whether a website is mobile-friendly:
- Visual and motion technology that works with mobile (no Flash usage)
- Content that flows in the viewport (no need to scroll from left to right)
- Defined viewport (a critical element in mobile sites)
- Fonts that scale for easy readability (no need to zoom to read)
- Touch elements that are well-sized and adequately spaced (not too close together or too small to easily use with thumbs)
How can I find out if my website is mobile-friendly?
Google has provided a free tool to check if your website is mobile-friendly. You simply enter the URL of your website into the Mobile-Friendly Test and the tool performs a check on your site’s critical elements. If you have a Google Webmaster Tools account, you can get a more detailed look at your site’s mobile performance through the Mobile Usability Report. It will scan your site for usability errors and provide you with a breakdown of your site’s performance including the types of errors found, the number of pages affected, and the particular URLs that have the errors.
I’ve seen references to mobile websites and responsive web design. Is there a difference?
Yes! Although responsive web design and mobile websites are both mobile-friendly, they handle the issue of changing screen sizes very differently.
- Mobile websites – With a mobile website, you actually have two websites. One version of the webpage is shown to desktop users, while a completely separate page is shown to users who access your site using a mobile device. This feature is one of the big pluses of mobile websites, as it allows you to create entirely different pages for desktop and mobile users. There are some downsides: you will need to maintain multiple URLs, will need to perform SEO on both sites separately to maintain search performance, and the static nature of mobile websites does not allow design elements to adjust to look and perform flawlessly across all mobile devices, tablets, and various screen sizes.
- Responsive web design – With responsive web design, you have a single website that delivers the same comfort and usability to mobile users as it does to desktop users. It does this by automatically adapting all design, type, and navigation elements to the configuration that works best with the screen size of the device on which it is being viewed. Google favors responsive design, because it offers the best site performance across the full range of devices and screen sizes. Also, there is no confusion with repeating sites, and no chance of having a site’s ranking reduced because Google thinks the page’s content is copied and unoriginal.
If the answer to is my site ready to face Google’s new mobile-friendly update is no, Blue Interactive Agency can show you how to make your website mobile-ready in a hurry. Our creative graphic designers and expert programmers are ready to create a beautiful, highly functional responsive web design that will perfectly fit Google’s new requirements while bringing you the business you deserve.
Contact us at Blue Interactive Agency today at 954-779-2801 for a mobile-friendly website with high-performing features that Google will love!