Google recently made it's first ever announcement prior to an update in order to inform marketers about the upcoming changes.
As of April 21st, Google will be updating their search algorithm again. But this time, it’s the rankings in mobile search results that will change.
But what exactly will be changing?
“Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal,” the Google team states on their Webmasters Blog, “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.”
This is great for end users. According to the Global Web Index, 80% of Internet users use a smartphone to search the web. And with Google’s update, we’ll most likely be seeing a more positive user experience. Say goodbye to clucky, slow-to-load, sites with small text.
For the mobile-unfriendly sites, this variation could hamper your search performance and more importantly, it could severely decrease your sales. If a percentage of your revenue is generated via mobile (and you do not have a mobile-friendly site), your old sales could go straight to your mobile-friendly competitors.
With less than a month to go before the rankings change, it’s time to get moving. If you’re a marketer or small business owner, thank Google for the heads up and get started preparing your site for the algorithm change with these tactics.
Before you panic and make impulsive moves, assess your site with Google’s available tools. First, you (or your developer) should test a few of your site’s pages with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. It’s incredibly simple to use: simply enter a web page URL and the test will inform you if the page has a mobile-friendly design. But that’s a tool to use if you’re only testing a handful of pages.
For a more elaborate assessment, you should access the Mobile Usability Report (via your Webmaster Tool account). The gizmo reveals common usability issues across the entirety of your site. According to SearchEngineLand, “The specific errors the report shows are flash content (which they issue warnings for), missing viewport meta-tag for mobile pages, tiny fonts that are hard to read on mobile, fixed-width viewports, content not sized to viewport, and clickable links/buttons too close to each other.”
Fix common mistakes
Even if the “Mobile-Pocalypse” weren’t upon us this April, it’d be wise to employ mobile web design best practices nonetheless. Take a look at the major mistakes you’re making, and tackle those first. Here are the seven most common blunders Google developers see across various sites:
- Unplayable content
- Faulty redirects
- Mobile-only 404s
- App download interstitials
- Irrelevant cross-links
- Slow mobile pages
If you admit to some or all of these slip-ups, read Google’s guide to common mobile design errors. They provide specific solutions for webmasters, so there’s no confusion.
Related Article: Mobile Marketing Analytics: Which Metrics Measure Success?
Start from the beginning
If you selected a theme or a template when designing your site in WordPress or Joomla, your transition to a mobile-friendly site could be as easy as a few clicks of the mouse. You might, however, need a more in-depth analysis and a new plan to revamp your site. Google developers have also been so kind as to create a guide to mobile-friendly sites, which walks you (or your developer) through the best route for your specific situation.
Google’s Zineb Ait Bahajji, Google Webmaster Trends team member was quoted saying that this new algorithm will be more impactful on Google’s search results than the Google Panda update and the Google Penguin update did. If you rely heavily on mobile customers, as does nearly every business today, get going on these fixes. And make it quick.