Google is making changes again to their algorithm on April 21 which will include “mobile friendliness” as an SEO ranking factor. This change has been coming for a long time, as more and more users turn to mobile devices for their online shopping, browsing, social media, and communications. It is estimated that 99.5% of users on mobile devices are making purchases on those same mobile devices shortly after browsing and shopping online.
Business owners and website designers alike are scrambling to make the needed changes that will go into effect on April 21st in time to keep from being outranked by competitors who may already have mobile friendly websites in place.
If you think your website might need some work to bring it into line with Google’s mobile-friendly recommendations and don’t know where to start then these tips are for you. Below are 5 actionable steps you can take to get ready including some tools you can use to evaluate whether your site is mobile ready or not.
TIPS FOR GETTING READY FOR THE APRIL 21ST CHANGES
1. Start by checking whether Google has already deemed your website mobile friendly. The quickest and simplest way to do this is to check for the ‘mobile friendly’ tag on your website in mobile search results pages (SERPs). Search for your website or some of your top keywords on your phone and you’ll notice Google has added a small grey ‘Mobile-friendly’ tag beside some of the search results. Do results from your website have it? If so then you probably don’t need to worry too much. However, the ‘mobile-friendly’ algorithm judges each and every page of your website, not just the page that is showing up here, so some further research is necessary.
2. The next step to take is to delve a little further into some mobile-friendly tests Google has created. First check for mobile readiness on Google’s Mobile-Friendliness Test, which will tell you whether your site is optimised for mobile devices. The tool will tell you whether your URL passes the mobile friendly test, and if not why – then giving recommendations on how to fix any issues.
It’s important to note however that this will only check the one URL you enter, not the full site. In order to check each and every page of your site it’s best to look in your Google Webmaster Tools in the ‘Search Traffic -> Mobile Usability’ section. Again this will give you the same information as the mobile friendliness tool, but for each page of the site.
3. Typical issues that the above tools will pick up on your website are concerned with details such as font sizes, readability and ease of navigation. Remember that your content is the most important aspect of your site. Users must be able to use your site to find the information they want that will help them make an informed buying decision or to perform some action. While changing the layout, buttons, fonts and font sizes to make your website meet Google’s technical specs for ‘mobile friendliness’ it’s also important to keep actual user experience in mind – more on this below.
4. Siege Media has written this great article to remind website owners to get ensure their site is mobile-friendly from the user end too. It is not enough to get your site mobile-ready for search engines alone. It does no good to optimise your site for search engines if it doesn’t convert well. The user interface is the single most important factor in increasing conversions so make sure users will find it easy to use.
5. Again, use Google Analytics to analyse the behaviours of mobile users on your site and use this to identify areas that are working and areas that need improvement. Check metrics like the amount of time on the page, mobile bounce rates, exit pages, session data and user data. This will tell you whether or not your mobile users have stayed on the page in the past and will give you an idea of what you need to do to get ready for the updates.
TIPS ON FINDING A GOOD DEVELOPER AND WHAT TO TELL THEM
If your research concludes that you do need some fixes to make your site mobile friendly, it’s generally not something you’ll be able to complete yourself – you’ll need the help of a savvy developer.
Choose a developer who knows their stuff when it comes to mobile site creation and give them as much information as you can. Take with you that list of issues and recommendations Google found on the mobile site test, and analytics data on mobile traffic behaviour to date.
In terms of what it will cost you – it’s difficult to give a generalised figure as each website will be different. But as a general rule of thumb, be prepared to pay around 40% of the cost that the original web design costs cost you.
IS IT THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT?
While the upcoming changes slated for the 21st of this month are enough to cause some concern for website owners, maintaining or increasing your ranking in Google will be easier than you think, as long as you take the proper steps to get ready. Remember that Google wants sites to maintain their ranking, to succeed on the web, and make conversions and sales. It is not in the best interest of Google to lose sites somewhere in cyberspace with the algorithm updates.