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Mobile Website SEO and Usability As Determined by Google
You have either heard of Google’s new Mobile Algorithm Update and you are here looking for help on how to get your site mobile friendly to avoid the ranking drop; or you have no clue what I am talking about but you are browsing FooWebs updates and this is news for you. This article aims to give you what you need, regardless of your circumstance, but feel free to skip the basics if you already have heard. And, as always, if you don’t have time to deal with this right now you can always call [813-360-0932] or email us and let us do it for you.
WHAT IS THE BIG DEAL WITH THE MOBILE USABILITY ALGO CHANGE?
Google has been rolling out a new algorithm change, focused on mobile users. An algorithm change is when they make a change to the computer program that determines how each result will rank when someone types in a search. While there are small algorithm changes even every day, larger ones like this mean that everyone may have to change their game plan, not just those obsessively working on their SEO.
This Google Mobile Usability Algorithm Change is said to be larger than Panda or Penguin (previous large-scale updates) and affect more than 50% of all queries on google search. Since mobile search has now surpassed desktop search this is hugely important if you want to be found by people searching the internet. An additional thing to note is that mobile users have a higher ROI rate since they are usually closer to the purchase point. So these are greatly important people you need to worry about.
WHAT HAS CHANGED WITH THIS UPDATE?
Google has created a new set of standards for websites that are searched on mobile devices. Some of these mobile usability standards are previously known items that have always been a good rule of thumb for mobile sites, but many have long been considered optional depending on how you designed your mobile site. They have tested these standards against the websites in their index and if you do not comply with their standards your ranking will be affected. In addition to showing up lower on the results, there is going to be a warning under the link that implies that the website is not mobile friendly. You can imagine how greatly this could affect your click rate if Google is basically telling them if they are on a mobile device [remember more than half of web searchers] they should skip this result.
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO?
If you have a website that you would like people to be able to find (yes I am being redundant on purpose), then you should re-examine your website code (or have us do it for you). If you recently had your website built, then do you think you still need to have a mobile usability check? The answer is yes. If you had your website built purposely with a mobile version of the site, then do you need a mobile usability check? Yes. What about if you have a fancy-pants responsive design? Yes, even you fancy pants!
The general rule of thumb is, if you have a website, then you need a mobile usability check.
If you have the time and ability to do it yourself, then use the following guidelines to get er done. If not - give us a call [813-360-0932] or email us requesting a free mobile usability check. Do it quick before your website is penalized!
WHAT NEEDS TO BE ADDRESSED?
- Page Speed - A slow page on desktop can often be slower on a mobile device. Considering slow network speed you will need to make sure your mobile users are not waiting a terribly long time for the page to load, so quick loading pages are the way to go. Especially if you want to get a good mobile ranking.
- Unplayable Content - There is a lot of content on the web that do not display on mobile devices. If you have this content on your site you are bound to receive a mobile ranking spank down. In other words, do not have Flash on your website.
- Font Size - Whether your fonts change size based on device size in your css files, or you use large enough fonts for your site because you are hip and have a contemporary hip website with big clear fonts…. you want the mobile users to see large size fonts so that they can clearly read the content.
- Element Spacing - One of the major factors that Google is using to determine mobile usability is how close the items are on your page to each other. For example, each button needs to have legitimate space between them so that a touch user can easily select the button that they mean to.
- Interstitial Ads and App Popups - While inline ads on mobile sites are ok, when you have a popup or interstitial ad pop on the top of the page it is a pain in the butt… Especially on a mobile device. With various screen sizes I can tell you I have frustratingly closed out of pages before when my screen was not large enough to find a close button and I could not access the content. Fortunately, Google is on my side and they are giving the rank spank to sites that have said pops. So if you have them, make sure they are not visible on mobile pages.
- A mobile version of your site is often accomplished in one of two ways: responsive or a separate mobile site. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, and personally I often prefer the mobile site option. However, if you have a separate mobile site there are a few things you have to do, such as redirect every single desktop page on your site to the mobile site or at least any that you want ranked well… additionally if you have bottom links between desktop and mobile, then make sure it goes to the mirror page and not just linked back to the home page.
- There are a lot of additional pieces, many that used to be considered optional, so make sure that you run a usability report on Google to find out what your specific site needs to adjust.
If your site is on Wordpress then you can install a mobile plugin like WPTouch and it will handle much of this work for you.
Mobile Usability Reports
Again if you want to have Foowebs run a mobile usability check and quote you to resolve any potential issues (and I can promise you likely have some dings unless your site was built within the past week or so, and even then quite possibly), shoot us an email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get back with you shortly so we can all avoid the Google Rank Spanks.
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Kim Young is Founder, CEO, and a developer at Foo - a web development company based in Wesley Chapel, Florida. She can also be found on Google+. With over 16 years of experience as a web developer, Kim is excited to share with you tidbits that she has picked up along the way. Kim prioritizes continuing education and out of box thinking in order to bring the most valuable solution to Fooweb's clients.