Mobilegeddon: What You Should Know and Do to Avoid Being Penalized By Google
Mobilegeddon is the next major change in the Google Search algorithm. Google has announced that on April 21st, they will rank mobile-friendly websites higher in their search results pages. The big question is: Are you ready for this major algorithm change, what will happen to your website's rank after April 21st? Here is a brief explanation of the implications of Mobilegeddon and what you should do to avoid being penalized by Google.
On February 26, Google announced new algorithm changes on its official blog. First, starting from April 21st, Google will make mobile-friendliness a more prominent factor for ranking websites on search results. Second, from this date, Google will start making use of information derived from indexed apps for searchers who have these apps installed on their mobile devices. This new update has several implications for business owners who depend on search engine optimization and organic search to bring in fresh leads and customers to their websites.
The Implications of Mobilegeddon
* Google has acknowledged the fact that more than 60 percent of searches are now done on mobile devices. In fact, data obtained from various surveys conducted online show that more than 80 percent of internet users worldwide now have at least one smartphone. Therefore business owners must adopt a mobile-first strategy in their website design and SEO.
* Mobile-friendly websites will receive a boost in their rank from April 21st. Google has emphasized mobile-friendliness as a ranking requirement since its Hummingbird update in 2014. It said that webmasters should build responsive websites that will adapt and display properly on all devices, from laptops to smartphones. Google prefers the use of responsive web design because it eliminates the need to maintain two subdomains and prevents the occurrence of duplicate content.
* Webmaster Trends analyst at Google, Gary Illyes, said that mobile-friendliness will be determined at the webpage level not for the entire website. This means that each page in your website must be assessed by the Googlebot to determine whether it will maintain its rank after Mobilegeddon. Hence, your entire website needs to be optimized for mobile friendliness not just a few pages.
How to Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly
Now that you know some of the implications of the Mobilegeddon Google update, what should you do? Here are some vital steps you can take now to prevent your website from being penalized by Google. If you discover that some of these steps are a bit too technical for you to handle, feel free to give us a call. We have developed an effective system that will help you to assess your entire website quickly and tell you everything you need to do to prepare it for Mobilegeddon.
1. Do a Mobile-Friendly Test on Google
The first step is to pass all your webpages through Google's mobile-friendly test. Google has a webpage dedicated for this. You can find it among the webmaster tools. To test your website, you can copy and paste the URL of your site into the text box at the upper part of the page. Then click on the analyze button. The process will take a few minutes or more depending on the size of the webpage. Then the results of the test will be displayed. If the webpage is not mobile friendly, several recommendations will be provided to meet Google's standards.
2. Use a Responsive Design
A responsive web design will ensure that your website can be displayed on virtually all browsers. Although it requires a higher upfront investment for its initial design, it has greater long term benefits than designing a separate mobile website on a separate domain/subdomain. Since the codes for displaying the webpage will be contained in the CSS scripts, you will be able to maintain all your web content in a single place for all browsers. In addition, this type of design will continue to display properly in future if there are any major changes to mobile screen sizes, browsers, or HTML standards.
3. Use a Large Font
A mobile-friendly webpage must have large fonts that can be read on small screens. In the CSS scripts, font sizes can be chosen for each kind of browser or screen size. Remember that smartphones do not have a mouse pointer that can be used to click on small text links. Most users have to use their fingers to touch or swipe on the small screen to navigate the site. Therefore it is essential to test your website on various smartphones and screen sizes before you finally deploy it.
4. Make Sure the Pages Load Very Fast
Redesign each webpage to ensure that it loads very fast on the smartphones that your mobile viewers will use. You will need to optimize the size of all images, and keep the number of pictures to the barest minimum. Avoid the use of Flash since iOS devices like iphones, and ipads do not support it. Remember that most mobile users could experience slow download speeds due to poor network coverage or congestion. So you should make sure your page loads with 4 seconds or less. This will prevent your visitors from abandoning your website and moving on to your competitor's site.
5. Set a Mobile View Port
Google wants you to specify a preferred width for your website. This width is also known as mobile viewport. You can do this in the header section of each webpage using a CSS script. Google searches for the meta tag that sets the viewport for mobile devices while testing your site. To set this viewport, you have to determine the smallest width that your site content can be reduced to while it is displayed in a mobile browser.
Those are some of the major changes you need to make to your website so it can become mobile-friendly. This will help you to scale through Mobilegeddon and maintain or even improve your rank in Google search results pages. Due to the technical nature of most of these changes and the need for a detailed assessment, you should consult an expert in mobile-friendly SEO web design. If you need help feel free to give us a call, we will do a detailed assessment of your website and help you to quickly make all necessary design changes, in the most cost-effective manner, so you can beat the April 21 deadline.