It’s not a trick. It’s not hype. It’s real. A BIG Google update is coming in two weeks.
If you run a small or medium sized business on Long Island or in NYC, it’s important to get ahead of this.
Google has announced that on April 21st, 2015 it is going to update its algorithm to formally include “mobile friendliness” as a ranking signal into its rankings formula. The update will roll out in the days and weeks after 4/21/15 and it is being called ‘Mobilegeddon’ by some.
Based on the fact that Google calls this update ‘Significant’ and a lot of chatter in the SEO world, the most likely result of this update will be twofold:
- Websites that are not mobile friendly will likely lose rankings—and the impact could be severe, especially if your website has a high proportion of mobile visitors and your lead generation is dependent on mobile visitors.
- Websites that are deemed mobile-friendly could see a rankings boost.
Many say it will be bigger than both the PANDA and the PENGIN updates.
One thing is clear: mobile friendly sites (sites that are responsively coded or mobile sites that pass Google’s mobile usability tests in Google Webmaster Tools or Google’s Developer testing website located at [https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/]) will be favored and websites that are not mobile friendly are likely to see some type of rankings drop on certain keywords, especially keywords that are competitive and in a niche where there are many sites that have already become mobile friendly. This could result in less traffic and a negative impact on your lead generation campaign.
But remember the silver lining: if your site is mobile friendly, you are likely to experience a boost, especially if your competitors do not get up to speed.
Also, you have time to work on this and you can work on it after April 21st. The algorithm should work in real time so you will not have to wait months for your site to be re evaluated.
Here Are Some Things We Expect:
- Only mobile rankings will be affected (this is the best we know to date)
- Tablets are likely to not be affected
- The update will go page to page on your website (any indiv. page can benefit from the update)
- It will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide
- The algorithm will run in real time
- It appears that a page will either be mobile-friendly or not (there will likely not be degrees of mobile friendliness)
So, How Do I Know If My Website Is Mobile Friendly?
There are three ways to check:
- Google Developers tool: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/. Go to this tool and enter your domain. It will tell you if your site is mobile friendly.
- Use Google Webmaster Tools (GWT). There is a “Mobile Usability” area that you can use within the GWT dashboard. It will tell you if your site is mobile friendly or if you have errors to fix. It will specify what errors you need to fix.
- Test it yourself manually on a smartphone. Use a smartphone and Google your company name. Look for a little label that says “mobile-friendly“ in your website description. If it says “mobile-friendly” then you pass. If it doesn’t then you probably have seen the errors using the two other aforementioned tools.
SIX Common Website Mobile Friendly Fixes:
- WordPress Theme Updates: If you use a WordPress site, then update your theme and make sure the theme is responsively coded. If your theme developers do not have a responsive theme, they are probably working on one now. At minimum you should go to their website and write to them as well as get involved in the Support forums. The most cost effective thing is to just update your theme to a newer version.
- WordPress Mobile Friendly Plugins: If this is not possible, then there are a number of free and paid (fermium) Worpdress mobile plugins that will turn your website into a mobile friendly website. Customization options will let your theme resize to the devices being used to view your site. Investigate this on your own or with your web developer.
- Separate Mobile Website: Another option: you may already have a mobile site i.e. a separate site on a subdomain or in a folder e.g. m.website.com or website.com/mobile. If you have a separate mobile website, you should test it and you may be fine.
- Third Party Application: Yet another option is to use a third party service (an example is dudamobile. We have no financial benefit of promoting them but we like their site). You can build a mobile site. Then you put a redirect into your existing website that points the domain to the separate mobile friendly version of your site. This way, if you have a non WordPress website e.g. HTML, you can keep the site and still meet most if not all of the mobile friendly requirements.
- Responsively Coded Website: A final practical option is for you to consider building a new website that is responsively coded or retrofitting an existing site to make it responsively coded (either in HTML, WordPress or other). That means you have one websites that reformats to the device. This is the most costly option however many sites are likely outdated or are in need of an update for branding purpose. Now is a good time to make this investment since you know that Google will be looking at the code in detail. It’s best to bring your site up to today’s standards, not just for Google, but for your own customers.
- Wait and Learn. The last option is to sit tight, wait and learn …for the time being. This is the case if you know for sure that a) web marketing and SEO are not important to your business strategy 2) your customers won’t care 3) your target audience does not use mobile. While these cases are few and far between for small businesses on Long Island and in NYC, they do exist. If you look in Google Analytics it will tell you how many mobile visitors you get. If the number is low, you can decide if it is worth it to make the investment after the update takes place and you can see if you are hit. Run your keyword rankings and traffic numbers before and after April 21st to get a sense.
Those are SIX options. There are probably more, but think it through.
Still don’t know what to do?
If you need professional help, call us at (516) 610-0922 or visit our Long Island marketing company at www.upsidebusiness.com.
Still, do not panic. Yes, there may be a cost and an investment to you, however with the penetration of mobile use around the globe at an all time high, it’s time to make your website user friendly anyway. Plus, Google has been telling business owners to become mobile friendly for years. On a higher note, a better user experience will yield better metrics that will in turn help your SEO rankings. With mobile visitors making up 30%-50% or more of many websites, making the mobile experience optimized is a sound business investment that can help you get a step ahead.
Here are some excellent resources to read up on the update now:
What we know so far: http://moz.com/community/q/google-s-mobile-update-what-we-know-so-far-updated-3-25
Google FAQs: http://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-answers-pressing-questions-about-mobile-friendly-algorithm-update/129064/
Advice from Google on common mobile issues: http://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-provides-advice-to-site-owners-ahead-of-april-21st-mobile-friendly-algorithm-change/128944/