As most people will know by now, from April 21st, Google will release into the wild its new search results algorithm which will reward sites that are deemed mobile friendly, and penalise those that are not.
In practice, what Google’s freshly updated robots are looking for sites that have a ‘responsive’ design. Simply put, this means that the site automatically detects the size and format of the client web device and automatically re-formats its format accordingly. Google bots will deem your site to be mobile friendly or not, there will be no shades of grey.
The problem is that many companies have only just heard about this. So much so, that Business Insider UK reports that many major UK brands websites are about to be punished by Google for not measuring up, including the Royal families own website (www.royal.gov.uk) and the high street fashion retailer, Next (www.next.co.uk). Using the Google Mobile-Friendly test, anyone can test these sites. Google says their text is too small to read and the content is too wide for the client page. There are many others including Ryanair, Dyson, Versace to name a few.
So ‘Mobilegeddon’ is coming, should we all just run for the hills? In short, no. Historically, if your site ranked highly on the desktop search engine, it would also on the mobile search. This is what will change from 21st. To be clear, if your site is not mobile friendly, it does not mean your site will be delisted, but it may demote sites specifically within its mobile search results.
Consider that, according to Designmodo, in the current era of mobile devices being in the majority, 60% of traffic for Google is mobile, 50% uses tablets and phones to purchase online and a whopping 78% of consumers search for a local business on a mobile device then proceed to the purchase stage.
There are a number of specific things you can do:
- Speak to your web design company today.
- For those managing their own site, changes can be put in place to make your site responsive quickly in many cases. For example, for Joomla and WordPress sites, there are many templates and plug-ins that can be applied.
- For your mobile content, avoid the use of media types that are not mobile compatible such as Flash.
- Ensure that your written content is the same for both desktop and mobile platforms and that all content is delivered from the same pages – not from separate mobile-only pages or subdomains.
- If you cannot implement a solution quickly, consider implementing a short term measure low-footprint mobile view, whilst you work on a more permanent solution.
- Track your position for mobile rankings – ensure that you are not dropping off, whilst your closest competitors are going up.
In short, we cannot overemphasise how it important it is that you act now to ensure your business is not negatively affected by this change by Google. For some, the impact may be minimal, for others not so. If you are not hands on with your site, get the experts in who can make the changes often quickly and easily. For those gifted with website development skills, there are many tools, templates and plug-ins you can apply today.