On April 21st Google will release an update to its algorithm proving that Google likes mobile friendly websites. This update officially gives priority to mobile-friendly sites when searching from a mobile device. This means that on this day mobile-friendly sites will begin to rank higher in search results. The impact on business is significant especially for online retailers and service providers. The fact is that Google gives preference to mobile-friendly websites because there are more mobile internet users than ever before.
Google is always updating its algorithm so why is this update significant?
There are a variety of ways that this update stands out. First of all it is big in a global way. These updates will not roll out in the United States alone but rather globally affecting all internet users universally. There will not be time to see how it affects one market in order for other markets to adapt. The changes take place April 21st and any site crawled thereafter will either get higher rankings for being mobile friendly or naturally fall to the wayside as mobile-friendly sites increase domain authority.
The algorithm update is also unique in that it affects each page of a website different. Each page will be crawled and ranked for mobile-friendliness. This means businesses with large sites can focus on eCommerce pages to get up to speed and hopefully not be penalized for pages that do not meet the new criteria.
Responsive Versus Mobile-friendly
One thing to note when looking into a mobile-friendly site – they are technically called “responsive” websites. Don’t let the lingo get confusing, mobile-friendly isn’t always responsive but responsive is always mobile-friendly. When talking to a website provider make sure you ask if they create responsive sites. The last thing you want are two different addresses for the desktop and mobile. Even though the m.yoursitehere.com sites are mobile-friendly, they will still be penalized in Google’s new algorithm because the URL is different compared to the desktop.
In the new algorithm released on April 21st 2015, Google will make single URL mobile sites the winners in the long shake out between different implementations of mobile-friendly.
Top Factors For Ranking On Google
Online marketing professionals around the world are preparing for April 21st but the truth is we’ve seen it coming for awhile. Ranking signals are always changing and with the rise of mobile search and the ubiquity of mobile devices it really is no surprise that mobile-”friendliness” has become one of the top factors for ranking on Google.
Ranking signals include things like keyword content, meta tags and link structure. This update will be less about content and more about the experience of mobile users. Mobile-friendly design that uses responsive website platforms is the new standard and it is a nod to the user experience of mobile users. Given that this is the first year mobile search is exceeding desktop search it is appropriate that Google is rolling out this major change now.
How Businesses Can Prepare
Check your website to see if you are mobile-friendly. Open up your page on a phone or tablet, if you need to pinch the screen to zoom in then it is not responsive (a.k.a. mobile-friendly). From a desktop you can simply make the browser window smaller and see if the content adapts to fit the screen. If you see a scroll bar on the bottom of the browser than it is not mobile-friendly.
An even easier way to check and see if your website is mobile-friendly is to look from your phone’s browser. Do not go directly to the website in question, just type in the name not the url so that search results appear as below. Right below the URL is where you can see “Mobile-friendly”. If your site does not have this then you are not currently considered mobile-friendly.
Knowing the current status of your website is the first step. Luckily, there is still time to adapt to the changes before Google releases the update. Check in with your marketing team to see if you’re ready for the change or contact us for help to navigate this big change for business websites. Mobile is here to stay and it is best to proactively prepare for Google’s mobile-friendly algorithm update so your business websites enjoys the perks and not the downfalls of this latest algorithm update.
Mobile-users have now surpassed desktop and there will certainly be lessons to learn from the shift.