In less than thirty days, on April 21st, Google’s first page results will change for users searching on a mobile device. With the intention of providing a better user experience to the 50% of users who now search using mobile, the new algorithm will rank mobile-friendly websites highest.
Even if your website is relevant and popular, and your SEO otherwise looks great, not having a site optimized for mobile users will hurt your visibility — or effectively cut it out altogether — for that 50% who search on mobile. At SMX Munich, Google’s Zineb Ait Bajahi is quoted as saying that this could be the most impactful algorithm yet, simply because it will effect such a large percentage of search traffic.
It’s surprising that, given the high volume of mobile users, many businesses still don’t have mobile-friendly sites. Because it takes extra time and/or raise the price point on already expensive website creation, mobile site optimization can often be an afterthought. But if you’re in the service industry, if you rely on users looking for quick solutions, or even if you just care about your organic rankings (free clicks! visibility!), making sure you have a mobile site should be a priority.
Don’t want to fall off the first page? Then it’s time to look into your site’s mobile usability.
1. Use Google’s mobile testing tool & usability report to see where you stand.
If you’re not sure how responsive your site is, the first place to check is with Google Developer — a resource for web development that jives with Google. The testing tool they offer is super straightforward — just enter your URL into the bar, and the bots will crawl your page to assess responsiveness.
The test will tell you whether or not your site is mobile-optimized, but for best results, keep digging.
We recommend you sign up for Google Webmaster Tools, a free service that will help you in so many ways. You can use it to scan your site for malware, discover how Search sees your site, and troubleshoot error messages. But also, you can use it to get a mobile usability report that will help you determine ways to improve your particular mobile site’s responsiveness, along with other specific problems and their solutions.
2. Follow Google’s mobile-friendly guide to reach full potential.
And if you don’t have a mobile site, Google Developers offers a guide to helping you create one. You can also check out the mobile SEO section for tips on improving the SEO of your existing mobile site. It’s an awesome resource that includes background information for understanding your mobile configuration, signaling your mobile responsiveness to search engines, and helping you watch out for common mistakes. Too much for you to take on yourself? In addition to PPC Management we also offer responsive website design. Learn more at our Website Development page.
3. Index your app for added visibility.
Along with the new mobile site ranking algorithm, Google is also throwing in an adjustment for app rankings. On April 21st, Google will preferentially display indexed apps in the search results to signed-in users searching on their mobile devices. If you don’t have an app to offer your users, ignore this part. But if you do, this change will probably help you out.
All you have to do in order to make sure your app will come up as a top result is to complete Google’s app indexing by following this step-by-step guide. Basically, what you’re doing is just showing Google that your app can be “indexed” – recognized and evaluated by Google’s bots – as if it were a website.
And some final advice — Think of Google’s new mobile update as a good thing! Google makes these algorithm changes to improve the user experience, not hurt your business. Making sure your site is mobile responsive is going to ensure that users can find you and easily navigate your site on their mobile device when they do — something that will surely help you gain their business in the end.