Are you ready for the next Google shift? Time to get mobile friendly!

The digital marketing world is looking ahead to the latest Google algorithm shift coming Apr 21st, 2015. Google will now be looking at the mobile friendliness of a website when delivering search results to mobile devices. If the site falls short, it may drop in mobile search rankings.

It makes sense. Google is always looking for ways to improve its search results and they consider user experience an important indicator of quality. We’ve all had the experience of using a mobile device to access a site, only to have to zoom in to read tiny text. Most of us will just give up on the site altogether if it’s too cumbersome to navigate. As Google sees it, if a web surfer is using their mobile device, they want to be able to deliver sites that can offer an optimal mobile experience.

How important is this shift?

It’s significant. Consider these statistics:

  • Mobile accounts for 1/5 of the e-commerce market (source: Search Engine Watch).
  • In early 2014, the landscape in which businesses operate changed forever when Internet usage on mobile devices exceeded PC usage (source: Search Engine Watch).
  • 77 percent of executives use their smartphone to research a product or service for their business (source: Search Engine Watch).
  • As of October 2014, 64% of adult Americans own a smartphone (source: PewResearchCentre).
  • Research giant Nielsen finds. 87% of smartphone and/or tablet owners use their devices to shop (source: internet Retailers).

Update May 5, 2015: Google has officially announced that mobile searches have surpassed desktop searches in 10 countries including the US.  Read about it here.

Any organization that gets steady business and leads from web searches needs to consider this algorithm seriously. Mobile is here to stay and businesses now must include strategy for mobile rankings in their digital marketing planning to ensure traffic is not lost and that income is not adversely affected.

What makes a site unfriendly?

For a site to be deemed “unfriendly” to mobile devices, it will include elements such as:

  • Small text that is hard to read on small screens
  • Touch elements, like links, that are too close together or difficult to click
  • Content that doesn’t size to the screen
  • Flash based websites
  • Slow page load times

Test your site

Now that you know what is coming, it’s time to look at your own site to gauge its mobile friendliness. A quick and easy way to do so is to use the Google Mobile-Friendly Test. Simply plunk in your URL to get feedback.

You can also check in to your Google Webmaster account. It’s free and easy to set up if you don’t have it going yet. This is a tool that we recommend to all of our clients. If your site is experiencing mobility issues, you will get a warning in your account. The Mobile Usability Report lets you know what specific usability errors Google has found.

Adjust your site

When it comes to mobility for a website, you can either have a completely separate mobile site or you can build a responsive site that works on any computer or device, automatically adjusting to the size of the screen. Google recommends responsive site design. If you found that your site does have issues, it’s time to address them with your web design team.

More resources and information from Google on mobility can be found here.

Delivering a great mobile experience on your site is not just about pleasing Google. When you’re making sales and generating leads online, you don’t want mobile visitors to come across any roadblocks that will prevent them from taking the next step.

About the Author:

Frank Siano is eBridge’s Search Marketing Strategist. He has evolved with the SEM game since the late 1990s, working with countless search engine algorithm updates and industry shifts. He shuns black hat techniques like the plague and assists clients with developing legitimate and proven SEM, SEO, and PPC strategies.

Posted April 16, 2015
Categories: Blog

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