In early March, Google announced the roll out of one of the most important algorithm updates since Penguin. The user has always been at the centre of Google updates, and through this most recent update, Google aims to better the user experience for the search engine’s mobile browsers. Google will give a boost to mobile-friendly sites and apps in order to help users “get the most relevant and timely results”. This can be seen as a response to the growth of access via mobile, as well as the larger trend towards more personalised search results.
How to Check & Fix Your Website
The Google mobile update is expect to roll-out from today, 21 April 2015. Here’s what you should know about Google’s mobile optimising guidelines.
A web page will be tagged as “mobile-friendly” if Google detects the following conditions on the page:
- Mobile-friendly software is used (Flash is not commonly used on mobile)
- The page’s text is readable without zooming (responsive design is prevalent)
- Content is sized so that users don’t have to scroll horizontally or zoom to view the page
- Links are placed far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily tapped
Want to know how your web page scores? Take Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.
If you would like to evaluate your entire site, view the Mobile usability report in Google Webmaster Tools.
Google offers additional resources on mobile compliance. You can view the Webmasters Mobile Guide on how to create and improve your mobile site and also refer to their how-to guide for updating third-party software like WordPress or Joomla, to meet the mobile-friendly criteria. Finally, to find out more about optimising your App for increased indexing on Google, look at their guide on the Google Developers site.
Who’s Really Optimised for Mobile Search?
Search Metrics recently put Google’s Mobile-Friendly evaluation tool to the test on the top 100 domains with SEO visibility. They set out to find out which homepages are optimised for mobile browsing and those that aren’t. Search Metrics also sought out to find the most common design flaws of the un-optimised home pages.
80% of the analysed domains passed as mobile-friendly when put through Google’s Mobile-friendly test. A surprising 16% of the top 100 web domains are not optimised for mobile browsing. 4% of the tested domains block their mobile version via robots.txt.
Below is a breakdown of the various ‘mobile-errors’, mentioned earlier, that Google takes into account when calculating mobile usability as well as the percentages of where the top 100 domains fell short:
- Links are too close to one another (16%),
- Text is small and therefore hard to read (15%),
- Mobile display area not determined (14%),
- Content wider than screen (6%) and
- Incompatible plugins (<1%).
According to the Search Metrics findings, domains like reddit.com, last.fm, washingtopost.com, dailymail.co.uk, msn.com, nih.gov, and weather.com, are not optimised for mobile users and are likely to experience a drop in rankings as a result. Buzzfeed.com, wikihow.com, theguardian.com, craigslist.org, youtube.com, about.com, forbes.com, Walmart.com, and time.com, were deemed mobile-friendly after being tested.
More on Responsive Design
Apart from the factors already mentioned, there are a number of other elements to take into consideration when optimising your website for mobile use. Screens of desktop computers vary to mobile devices and the standard format also differs (some devices are used horizontally vs portrait). Desktop computers navigate via the use of a mouse where is touch is used to navigate smartphones and android devices.
We suggest selecting a website template with responsive design. With responsive design your website will use the same html to render a different display of the site depending on the device being used to view the website. Alternatively, a dynamic serving is a setup where the server responds with different HTML (and CSS) on the same page depending on what devices is being use to view the website.
Some businesses are redirecting mobile users to separate mobile websites from their primary domains. Considering the risk of redirect errors, and that this method will split your domain authority, we suggesting configuration your mobile site for responsive design or a dynamic serving.
“Another update that marketers need to consider is that Google will favour content from sites where the user has the app installed. This comes as no surprise, as an installed app is a direct signal to Google that the user is interested in the content, product or services that the site product or brand provides’, says Bridget Gersie, MediaVision’s Senior SEO & Digital Strategist.
Time to Act
The move from desktop to mobile has been one of the most talked about trends in the last few years. With the Google mobile update rolling out this month, the time to set your mobile strategy is now. Any business without a mobile strategy for their content and website may run into trouble sooner or later. Not only do internet browsing devices differ, but also the users, their search intent and situation. Speak to us today for expert advice on your digital marketing strategy and stay ahead of the curve.