April 28th, 2015
Google search on mobile

The time is upon us – Mobilegeddon! 

No, it’s not a sequel to the Bruce Willis blockbuster “Armageddon” – it’s the launch of Google’s new mobile-friendly algorithm and its impact on mobile search results. So what’s the deal? Keep reading below for details and learn what you need to be doing so your site stays relevant on a smartphone. We know you “don’t want to miss a thing!” 

What are the new rules for Google’s update?

Beginning last week, Google is starting to give preference to mobile-friendly sites in organic mobile (smartphone) search results. This will only affect a site’s search ranking on mobile devices – their desktop search ranking will remain the same – and it will occur on a page-by-page basis.

This does not affect tablet searches, as many tablet sites are templated similarly to desktop sites and they share very similar page dimensions.  

Who will this affect?

Basically anyone with a smartphone. It is projected that smartphone users will surpass 2 billion in 2016. Mobile searches currently make up about half of all Google searches, and one third of all online traffic is on mobile. This is a huge percentage of overall web traffic!

So, what does it mean to be “mobile-friendly”?

A site is considered mobile-friendly when it is easily readable and navigable on a smartphone. Mobile-friendliness is determined by the mobile page template and the ability for users to access all necessary content quickly with just a tap or scroll.

In what ways does a “mobile-friendly” website look different than a normal website?

“Mobile-friendly” sites are designed around touch and spacing. In general, mobile designs use significantly less text than desktop sites.

Below are some basic mobile-friendly site elements:

  • Buttons are used more frequently on mobile sites than text links. Buttons provide clear direction for the user to move through the mobile site, and they give the user plenty of defined space for their finger to select.
  • Navigation is more important than ever on mobile. Because mobile sites use less text than desktop sites, it’s very important to have helpful navigation that quickly gets your users to the content they’re looking for.
  • Mobile displays should ideally appear in a single column scroll. Most mobiles screens are less than 500 pixels wide. This means that mobile sites have a limited view and site visitors are used to scrolling to see more content. Don’t bog down your mobile site with multiple columns that make it harder to read and even harder to click. Mobile design is an extension of SEO best practices. You put your most important content at the top so a user doesn’t need to scroll through irrelevant content to get what they came for.

How does user behavior differ on a smartphone vs. a desktop?

  • Mobile users want a fast-loading site. They are generally on-the-go and don’t have the patience to download 50 images. Apple users also can’t see Flash, so that’s out.
  • According to Hubspot, 27% of mobile consumers will leave a site if it is not mobile-optimized.

Am I too late? When do I have to comply by?

The new algorithm went into effect on Tuesday 4/21, and the changes will be rolled out over the next few weeks. However, you may not see immediate changes in your mobile ranking, as it may take some time for Google’s algorithm to review all sites. 

How can I tell if my site is mobile-friendly?

Google has provided a mobile-friendly checking service for webmasters to check their sites. Just type in the URL of your site and review Google’s recommendations to improve your mobile ranking. If your site doesn’t pass the test and you want to learn more, contact Meyers + Partners!

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