Last month, Google yet again sent the Internet in a fury when it launched its latest — and most significant — search algorithm update, not so affectionately referred to as #Mobilegeddon by those in the digital marketing world. In short, the new change favors mobile-friendly pages in mobile search results. (And this is momentous, as mobile searches have now surpassed the number of PC queries.)
This change puts those that don’t meet Google’s mobile-friendliness threshold caught in the crosshairs, suffering a loss in mobile traffic — something that most businesses simply cannot afford.
Cue the alarm bells and widespread panic. With countless rumors, articles and dissenting viewpoints online, it can be challenging for marketers to cut through the noise and develop an action plan.
Here’s a survival guide to understanding the facts, assessing your current situation and developing a mobile SEO action plan to stay relevant in search:
Why You Should Care About Mobile SEO
How much traffic does your website get from mobile devices? How about ecommerce sales or leads from form submissions? If you’re like most businesses, chances are a quick look at your web analytics will reveal that you’ve been experiencing a continuous increase in mobile activity on your site. Depending on your current business situation, mobile traffic might be critical to the bottom line of your business. But how do you keep that mobile traffic coming? That’s where mobile SEO comes in. Optimizing your site for mobile search goes way beyond title tags and meta descriptions. Usability, design, content, links and local SEO all come into play. Google’s algorithm update really hones in on usability (more on that in a bit), but the point is that mobile SEO isn’t a once-and-done thing.
As a marketer, the first step is to understand the current value of your mobile traffic in dollars and cents. From there, work toward a valuation of the opportunity gained or lost through mobile SEO, taking Google’s mobile-friendly ranking updates into account. If you need help determining this, here’s a handy guide to help you estimate lost mobile traffic.
Understanding Google’s Mobile-Friendly Updates
As of April 21, 2015, Google is using mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. Put simply, if your website does not meet Google’s criteria for mobile-friendliness, it’s likely that your non-friendly pages will suffer a loss in rank (and subsequently search traffic).
It’s important to note that this only affects mobile searches — not desktop or tablet searches. The affects of the algorithm also happen at the page level. If some pages on your site are mobile-friendly while others are not, only those that aren’t mobile-friendly will experience a potential loss in ranking.
Google’s mobile-friendly algorithm update really focuses on mobile usability. Some of the primary factors include the following:
- Having a mobile-friendly design (i.e. a responsive site or a dedicated mobile site).
- Ensuring that touch elements are spaced properly and font size is readable.
- Reducing mobile page load and page speed times. A big culprit in high load times can be images or interactive media, so make sure to double check your file sizes.
Is Your Site Mobile-Friendly?
In order to assess the mobile-friendliness of your site, Google has developed a mobile-friendly test that’s quite easy to use. Simply enter your website or dedicated mobile site and click “analyze”. The results will help you determine what, if anything, needs to be fixed to comply with Google’s mobile-friendly algorithm updates.
In addition to this, you should make sure that you have signed up for Google Webmaster Tools. Google Webmaster Tools offers a mobile usability report as well as automated email alerts that will help you stay ahead of mobile SEO challenges.