Google recently updated its mobile search algorithm to give mobile friendly sites precedence over the mobile ‘unfriendly’ ones. What does this mean for you?
The reason, according to the research firm comScore Inc., is that the number of mobile searches in the U.S. is rising by about 5 percent while inquiries on PCs are dropping slightly. In the final three months of last year, 29 percent of all U.S. search requests – about 18.5 billion — were made on mobile devices. Google processes the bulk of all internet searches — two-thirds in the U.S. and even more in many other countries.
While many older, non-responsive websites could get hit hard by this update it’s far from the death knell for every website that doesn’t meet Google’s mobile friendly criteria. After doing some research, I’ve started to compile information that will help you understand how it effects your website. Google keeps a tight lid on the specifics of how it’s algorithm weighs different factors to produce the best search results so I will provide further updates as the long-term impact of the new algorithm become more evident.
Google’s new formula will not directly affect searches on desktop and laptop computers, only queries on mobile devices. You can see how many people are accessing your website on a mobile device through your Google Analytics account. Reviewing your analytics will let you know how much traffic you potentially stand to lose if your site isn’t mobile friendly. A review of my clients’ websites showed that restaurants, spas and other retailers usually get a significant percentage of their traffic from mobile devices while B2B companies are still mostly found through desktop searches. So if you’re a manufacturer or a business to business with a traditional website the immediate effects of Google’s latest update probably won’t be catastrophic. This isn’t the case for restaurants, boutiques and entertainment venues; for those businesses having a mobile-friendly website is no longer just a good idea, it’s likely critical to remaining competitive on the web.
Below is an excerpt from “Google Mobile Friendly Algorithm Gives Small Businesses The Advantage” an article that explains it well with a few tips.
A good dose of reality is also needed with any Google announcement, according to Matt Beswick of Milton Keynes based web agency Aira, where smaller brand and website owners need not fear Google as much as they might do.
Google is great at PR. They manage to strike fear into the hearts of business owners and CEOs alike who should know better. The key thing is to remember that they don’t always do what they say and, at the end of the day, all they want to achieve is a better search experience for their users, who are ultimately your customers.
5 mobile-friendly action points
Here are some ‘first steps’ to make sure your website is compliant with Google’s new mobile friendly algorithm. These are things that should be done whether your business employs an in-house SEO team or outsources to an agency:
- Check if your site is already considered mobile friendly by Google – you should see the mobile friendly label in the mobile search results or use Google’s mobile friendly test to check – www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly. There may be a delay in Google identifying mobile friendly web pages on your site though.
- The algorithm roll out affects only search rankings on mobile devices and applies to individual pages, not entire websites, so make sure your most important pages are indexed as mobile friendly as soon as possible.
- Get your SEO team to cross check Google’s ‘top seven mistakes webmasters make when going mobile friendly’ blog post to see if they are guilty! www.developers.google.com/webmasters/mobile-sites/mobile-seo/common-mistakes
- Check the status of your entire site through the Mobile Usability report in Webmaster Tools that identifies those pages on your site suffering from severe usability problems for mobile visitors.
- Having made the changes, instruct Google’s spiders to crawl your site sooner than they might have otherwise done by using Google’s Fetch as Google function.
John Ramption, Contributor
Entrepreneur helping startups figure out what’s happening with Google
Don’t forget to review how much traffic is coming from a desktop version versus mobile. If you are getting 75%-90% from your desktop, you don’t need to panic yet.
Ask your web developer if there is anything they can do with your current website to make it more mobile friendly and not get downgraded on mobile devices. There may be things like increasing the type size when a mobile device has been detected or having 2 photos across the page instead of 4 to keep the size of the images reasonably large when it scaled down to a mobile screen. These are just some of the programming fixes that can help you avoid getting penalized for a mobile unfriendly website.
Feel free to call me at 248-652-8307 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would be more than happy to review your current website.