Google Mobile-Friendly Update To Its Algorithm Announced ? How Can You Avoid Being Penalised?
As we head into April 2015 it is important to note that Google will be releasing an update to its algorithm, this time based on the mobile-friendliness of your website. Yes, you might be surprised to hear of this update before it occurs ? Google isn’t exactly renowned for its openness when it comes to ranking criteria ? but the search giant has announced it will start penalising websites which are not mobile-friendly from April 21.
So, what does it mean for your business? Well, if your online business boasts an ecommerce presence or website of any description, you’ll need to carefully consider how well information can be viewed when using a mobile device. 2015 is the year that mobile search will overtake those on desktop PCs – so this update is imperative for all businesses with an online presence.
The Google mobile-friendly update
There are a few different ways in which you might display online content effectively using a mobile device: Responsive Web Design, Dynamic Serving, and Separate URLs.
Websites that can be viewed successfully by smartphone, laptop, PC and tablet are known as being ?mobile-friendly?, which means it will load quickly on a smartphone or tablet without causing issue for your web users.
Responsive websites are the Google-recommended option, allowing for an optimal viewing experience, including easy navigation and reading, on the device of your choice. The major benefit for the user is that there is minimal need for resizing, panning, and scrolling when viewing the site on a mobile device (you know how annoying this is). Google have a dedicated resource to help make a great site for your mobile visitors and mobile SEO.
Google’s update plans involve both mobile-friendly websites and web apps. If you don’t take the proper measures to ensure your site can be viewed by all these various devices before the algorithm update, it could dramatically impact your website.
Google has now answered queries based on how quickly the algorithm will take effect. They say roll-out will commence on the 21st April and complete within a few days to a week. An important factor to consider is that there are no degrees of mobile-friendliness – your pages will either be classified as mobile-friendly or not mobile-friendly.
The fact that Google is actually warning businesses about this update is another reason to heed advice. In fact, they themselves have used the phrase ?significant impact? when referring to how much this will affect rankings. Now if that’s not impetus enough to get you moving, nothing will be.
How much traffic do you stand to lose?
It should certainly be noted that this Google update will impact mobile search rankings only. Now before you breathe a sigh of relief, consider the fact that mobile search will soon outpace those from PCs ? mobile most definitely isn’t a fad that’s going away anytime soon.
Google says on its Webmaster Central blog that searching on mobile devices should enable users to access the most relevant and timely results, whether the information is on apps or mobile-friendly web pages. This should make it easier for users to gain access to the most relevant search results that are best optimised for the mobile devices.
Additionally, Google will be listing relevant app content in its search results. This means that users who are signed in and have apps installed will benefit from more prominent indexing of this information in the search results.
What actions do you need to take?
Firstly, you may wish to test if your site is configured for mobile and how it works on different screen sizes and types of device. Google offers its own Mobile-Friendly Test and PageSpeed Insights reports to check how well your website responds to being viewed on a mobile device. If your site is not yet compatible with mobile devices you do need to carefully consider the impact this will have on your mobile search results.
Meeting the April 21st deadline
The major benefit of meeting Google’s deadline is that you guarantee your site won’t be affected by the update. It means you won’t suffer the effects of seeing your top-ranking pages pushed further down the search rankings. This certainly gives you a boost in terms of the competitiveness of your website as you can say with some certainty that all your competitors won’t have implemented the necessary changes.