Recently, our dear friends at Google made pretty big changes to their search ranking algorithm so that mobile-friendly sites rank better in mobile searches than websites that aren’t optimized for mobile devices. Their reasoning is that roughly 60% of site traffic comes from mobile devices and #Google wants those visitors to have a good user experience. Makes total sense, but what do these changes mean for businesses? Well, if your business has a website and it’s not #MobileFriendly, this could have a noticeable impact on traffic volume to your site. In other words, you better get hot for mobile, too. And fast.
Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results.
Is this a shocker for those of us in the web design/development/copywriting field? Not so much. For one, in late 2014 Google launched its “mobile-friendly” label for use on search results pages. It basically lets users searching on mobile devices know whether or not a site is optimal for mobile-device viewing. Basically, it’s Google’s version of the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. According to Google, “users will find it easier to get relevant, high-quality search results that are optimized for their devices.” See an example of the mobile-friendly label in AMJ’s search results below. Yay, us!
Freaking out? Take a deep breath. It’s going to be okay.
Well, sort of.
While this isn’t the #Mobilegeddon some are claiming, businesses that don’t adapt their website to accommodate these changes will likely be shocked at diminishing site traffic. By all accounts, big consumer companies are scrambling to update their websites because even a small dip in traffic can have a huge impact on the bottom line (to the tune of millions of dollars).
But it isn’t just the biggies that should be rushing to make sure they’re loving up mobile users: millions of small businesses could be in trouble, too. Some of these operations don’t have a responsive website or perhaps they do, but have no clue what the hay is happening. This could translate into fewer phone calls, not as many customers walking through their front doors, and a significant drop in sales. If you are one such small business, it’s a good idea to spend a little time to investigate if your site is likely to be impacted.
And speaking of impact, Google’s latest update only applies to individual web pages, not entire websites, and will affect search rankings on mobile devices and search results in all languages globally.
Is your site mobile-friendly?
I mentioned the term responsive above. A responsive website is a site that adapts its experience to whatever device (laptops, iPhones, tablets, etc.) a site visitor is using to visit that site. Responsive design tries to ensure optimal readability, navigation, viewing of images, brand messaging, and more, regardless of a device’s screen size. If your site isn’t responsive and you have the budget to redesign your site, there’s no time like the present to get started.
If you do have a responsive site but aren’t sure how your site stacks up, Google created a helpful tool for webmasters and business owners. Simply visit this link, type (or copy and paste) in one of your website’s page urls, and click the Analyze button. Repeat for each web page on your site. In no time at all, you’ll know if any of your web pages need some mobile first aid. Again, this doesn’t analyze an entire site, just individual web pages on your site.
If you have Google’s Webmaster Tools installed on the back end of your site, you can examine your entire website to see if it is mobile-friendly. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, check out this tutorial.
In the words of Outkast in their pop hit, Hey Ya, nothing is forever. And indeed, these wise words are true even when it comes to site rankings. If your site isn’t mobile-friendly now, once it becomes mobile-friendly, Google will automatically crawl and index your pages like nobody’s business, so your site is bestowed with the mobile ranking it deserves.
Content and User Experience
You’ve probably heard the phrase “Content is king,” made famous by Bill Gates all the way back in the late 1990s. While content remains critical in engaging a business’s target audience, it, too, must adapt to the new Google algorithm. So even if content is informative, beautifully written, and fun to read, if it’s not mobile-friendly, you’ll have fewer people eyeballing it. Thanks, Google!
As users increasingly access websites through mobile devices, they will spend less time tucking into large blocks of copy and instead spend more time scanning and clicking. That means brands have smaller windows of opportunity to inform, engage, and ultimately convert site visitors into actual consumers. Whether it’s a long-format blog post or landing page copy, it needs to be streamlined with headlines, subheads, and section headers, while keeping things punchy and actionable.
Anyone wanting to learn more about Google’s hopes and dreams when it comes to mobile-readiness can read the official statement on their Webmaster Central Blog. And, of course, should you want to update your site’s design and/or copy to ensure it offers the best possible mobile device experience, be in touch and I’ll tell you how AMJ can help out.