Google Mobile-Friendly Algorithm: is your Website Ready for the Challenge?

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According to MOZ, each year Google changes its search algorithms around 500–600 times. Most of these updates are minor but from time to time Google rolls out a number of large updates too. During the last 6 months Google implemented updates regarding site optimization for mobile devices, on the 26th of February Google had announced that mobile friendliness would be a new ranking factor for websites. Seems that this update will transform our vision of how Google mobile-friendly sites should look like.

Google have kept their word and starting from April 21st, a new algorithm called #Mobilegeddon  has been rolling out on the Web.

What is more, it is affecting the way search results look like very quickly, lowering  positions of the sites which don’t  conform to a new ranking factor.

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Image credit: Advancedwebranking.com

That is why making sites optimized not only for desktops becomes quite an urgent task if you don’t want your business to lose visitors and revenue.

What is mobile-friendly website?

  •   With the first update Google decided to help users find pages displayed correctly on tablets and smartphones. Google brought a “mobile-friendly” label which can be seen within search results:

“This can be a frustrating experience for our mobile searchers. Starting today, to make it easier for people to find the information that they’re looking for, we’re adding a “mobile-friendly” label to our mobile search results.”

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Source:  Googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com

If your website is not optimized for this group of devices, it will not receive the label which can lead to omission and avoided by users.Its common news that more and more of us use Google search from our smartphones, so it‘s never been as important as it is now to make sure your site is convenient for users browsing on the go.

There are certain criteria to meet:

  1. Do not use software that is non-common for mobile devices;
  2. Make sure your text is readable without zooming;
  3. Adjust content to the screen
  4. Make spaces between links for users to easily tap the needed one.
  •  The second update – the latest one- will be applied on April 21st and will bring a new ranking factor for websites-‘mobile friendliness’.

Google is polishing search results by implementing various algorithms to help users receive relevant and high quality search results. This time it is about optimized experience for device usersm which becomes a ranking factor.

How to check if your website is mobile-friendly?

  1. Check your pages with the Mobile-Friendly Test
  2. Read updated documentation on Webmasters Mobile Guide on how to create and improve your site
  3. See the Google Mobile usability report in Webmaster Tools, which highlights major usability issues across your entire site, not just one page

How to check Google mobile rankings?

There is a good selection of tools to check how your own online project is doing during the era of new ranking factor.

2015-04-23_11-38_Orainti on Twitter

Image credit: @Orainti

How to make your website mobile-friendly?

It is the one that has been designed, developed and optimized so that each user, no matter which device they are using, gets the best experience possible. To explain this further, here are some common characteristics of a mobile-friendly website:

  • Navigation is simple and clear
  • All design elements have been replaced or removed to simplify usage
  • Content has been laid out to allow for mobile consumption
  • Phone numbers are setup for click to call functionality
  • Addresses are setup to use the device’s map functionality
  • Calls to action are setup to work with simple forms or the device’s email functionality

To better understand what needs to be done, let’s take a look at a non-mobile friendly website:

    • It takes a lot of scrolling (left to right, top to bottom) to view the website before any navigation or content is seen;
    • All buttons are small, all navigation, the content is too small to click on with your finger without hitting multiple options at the same time;
    • You have to zoom constantly to view a page;
    • No action is taken when clicking on phone numbers and addresses;
    • Trying to fill out, or even view, form fields.

What other steps to take for making your site optimized:

  • Make sure there is a mobile version of your site, if there is – check if it is a responsive design or dynamic serving. ( in case with dynamic serving make sure Vary HTTP header is being used);
  • Check if analytics are set up ;
  • Make sure that you are on the same page with the mobile visitors- check and see if mobile experience matches with their intent;
  • Make sure there are no faulty redirects (read more about those redirects below);
  • Make sure there is a proper markup between a mobile site and desktop one.

Sometimes there are different urls for mobile and desktop versions of the site. A faulty redirect is when a desktop page redirects smartphone users to an irrelevant page on the smartphone-optimized website.

Here is an example of faulty redirects (marked red):

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It is better to avoid such faulty redirects, by redirecting from a desktop page to its equivalent smartphone-optimized page. If there is no such page, it is better to show desktop page content instead of redirecting to irrelevant pages.

If your site redirects mobile visitors away from their intended URL, you’re likely going to run into issues impacting your mobile organic performance. There is a good chance of losing your visitors as well, as they may feel tricked.

Sometimes there are smartphone-only errors, seen only from mobile devices. There are certain ways to solve the issue:

  • Make redirect from desktop page to equivalent smartphone-friendly page;
  • Make sure you treat Googlebot-Mobile like you would treat these devices;
  • Make sure there are no flash videos.

Going mobile is a vital for your site, since it is a ranking factor from Google, the new algorithm will change the search results all around the globe. Thus, you should make sure your site is ready and meets certain criteria suggested by Google.

If you want to learn more information or need help in optimizing your website for mobile devices, feel free to contact us.

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Google Mobile-Friendly Algorithm: is your Website Ready for the Challenge?

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