Be Responsive! Google Is Penalizing Non-Mobile Friendly Websites!
Millions of sites around the world could start seeing a huge reduction in traffic from smartphones if they are not mobile and for some it has already begun! Many are calling this "Mobilegeddon." We call it bad "Google-Hygiene".
Google has acknowledged that over 48% of search is done from a mobile device and has already adjusted its algorithm to reflect this which means pushing websites that are not "mobile-friendly" towards the bottom of search rankings! Which means sites that are responsive to mobile devices rise to the top like Peter Pan while those that are not plummet to the depths of neverland.
It was recently predicted by Google that search queries performed on mobile devices will soon out number searches done on computers, that number is currently at 48%!
The main focus of SEO (search engine optimization in simple terms "how search engines find your page") was primarily content and link building now mobile usability has become a major focus. At the end of the day google wants the users to be able to easily view your content, that means no "pinching and zooming" to view content on your page and no magnifying glasses.
So let's say your site currently is ranked on the first page of the search results in Google, and your site is not "Mobile-Friendly", then your site will disappear into the mass of millions of other search results on mobile devices. With 92% of all clicks happening on the first page, this would be a nightmare for your business and the traffic to your site. If your asking yourself when did this all happen, well "this just happened!" This overhaul by Google took place April 21, 2015.
As LaVar Burton from "Reading Rainbow" always used to say "but, Don't take my word for it". Here it is the complete FAQ from Google.
So what do you do?Use a lifeline or create #Ineedhelp
First thing you you can do is conduct a Google search for your business from a Smart Phone Device and see if the "Mobile-Friendly" label is present. If so then your business has passed the test and your search rankings shouldn't be greatly affected. However, if you do not see the tag "Mobile-Friendly" then you will will need to follow the steps below.
- Visit Google's Mobile Friendly Test page and enter your site's URL. This will tell you why your site doesn't meet the requirements.
- Visit Google's Page Speed Test, to see how you can speed up your site. This is an additional factor in determining site ranking.
- Fix any of the above problems, either by yourself or with the help of a professional developer.
How Can I Fix These Problems? I've got 99
Make sure your website is "Responsive" that is the term used to describe how your site adjusts to different screen sizes. Make sure your developer is creating a "Responsive site" NOT A "MOBILE SITE".
Mobile Sites Were So Last Year
12 Months ago thousands of businesses were not building "responsive sites" but instead opted to just create a "Mobile Site" which meant essentially there were two sites, a desktop version and a mobile version. When a mobile device accessed your site it would recognize it was a mobile device and reroute you to a "Mobile-Site" which looked in most cases bland and nothing like the original site. This proved to be expensive and served as only a bandaid. Responsive sites mean you only have to build one site and it will work on over 5,000 devices, any screen any size!
Making the Change
Like Michael Jackson said, "It's time to make a change" however this change could either be simple or costly, you'll be lucky to moonwalk right through this change! The steps you will need to go through will vary depending on what is wrong and how your site is being hosted, it can also depend greatly on who created it for you, in which case you may end up telling him to "just beat it!" If there are significant issues it could end up costing hundreds or thousands of dollars depending if it was custom built. In most all cases there is no easy fix, you can't just flip a switch or change a quick code it calls for a fresh new build with all new coding, for many of you this could serve as an opportunity to "look in the mirror" and freshen up some of that dated content. After all a major part of SEO and strong "Google-Hygiene" means keeping content current and active.
Get some education? Here is your syllabus
As I mentioned before a Responsive site means allowing users to view your site on their mobile devices easily, without having to "Pinch and zoom" or even squint to view the content and text. Responsive sites also need to load fast, which means minimizing the size of images so they load faster, Google actually penalizes for slow loading sites because people are more likely to leave a web page that loads slowly. In most cases smartphone users are on 3G which is 4 to 100 times slower than 4G or 4GLTE (typically equivalent to your home wifi speeds if not faster) which means compressing the information and most importantly image sizes as much as possible will help your site load faster! You can try and pick your customer but you can't pick their Phone Carrier but that's a topic for another blog.
Here are a few tips you should be thinking about when developing your site:
- Obviously, use a responsive template or code
- Minimize the size of your pictures or compress them to a smaller format
- Choose images that will work well for screens of all sizes. Screens can range from 3" (iPhone 3g) to 30 inches and above especially now that smart TVs are out.
- Reduce text size, but not too small people won't be able to read them
- Use larger text and buttons so that they are easy to access and read on mobile. Remember users won't be using a mouse they will be using their fingers.
You don't have to do this alone
Although this road seems daunting and overwhelming you can rest assure you are not in it alone. Millions of websites will be going through this transition and unfortunately what this proves is how much control Google has over how we find what we are looking for. But there is not a whole lot we can do about it other than conform and make the necessary changes. With so many users on Mobile Devices this change was inevitable and for those paying close attention they were able to stay one step ahead and make this change already.
If you are in need of help or have questions feel free to reach out to us at UPG Mobile Marketing Group, we were born in this industry having started in the mobile industrie 13 years ago with a little known company you may remember called Cingular Wireless. We understand mobile and where it is going, we can keep help you stay ahead of the curve. Although we specialize in mobile applications we also focus on "Responsive Websites" and can help you get through this little hurdle and back to doing what you do best which is running your business!
If you know somebody who may suffer from bad "Google-Hygene" please share this information you may just save their business!
President of UPG