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Are You Prepared for Google's Mobile-Friendly Ranking Algorithm?

As the day to the official rollout of Google’s new mobile-friendly algorithm draws nearer, webmasters who are aware of this are scrambling to update their websites. Announced in early March 2015 and popularly dubbed as the ‘Mobilgeddon’, the new algorithm will come into effect on April 21 to rank mobile-friendly websites higher than those that are not. Worse still, sites that are not up to speed will be penalized. We could potentially see thousands of sites drop off the search engine’s results pages! Scary thought…and it’s a very real one.   

In its recent Google+ Hangout organized to answer key concerns and questions about this change, Google revealed the following:

  • Official rollout will begin April 21 and should be implemented globally in the next few days following this.
  • It does not matter if your website appears “okay” on mobile devices or not. If it is not designed specifically for mobile devices based on over 200 criteria, your website will suffer on mobile search rankings.
  • This algorithm affects only mobile device search listings and not desktop searches. (So if your target audience lives under a rock, does not use mobile devices and will only use a desktop computer to search for you—then you’re safe…but only for some time. If your site is penalized for mobile-unfriendliness for too long, it will also affect your ranking based on desktop searches in the long run.)

How Do You Check for Mobile-Friendliness?

The easiest way to check if your website is considered mobile-friendly by Google is by checking if your web pages have the ‘mobile-friendly’ gray label on live mobile searches. Apart from this, you can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. The benefit of this tool is that if your web pages do not pass the test, Google will give you reasons why and point out the steps you can take to make them more mobile-friendly. The most common reasons for failing the test are: the text on the pages is too small, links are placed too close, or the mobile viewport isn’t set. However, there are many other factors that determine your site’s mobile-friendliness, including the quality of content. Apply common sense—think about how a mobile user may type a search query and optimize your content accordingly. You can also do your keyword research the same way to include only mobile queries for a particular keyword.  

Don’t Make these Mistakes On Your Mobile Site

Google has compiled a list of commonly made mobile mistakes that webmasters can check for in the lead up to the April 21 launch.

A few critical steps to ensure that your website isn’t affected are:

  • Ensure that the mobile version of your website is active and functional, and of course, using responsive design.
  • See that Google’s bots can access your website: unblock them today!
  • Since the new algorithm will be applied on a page-by-page basis, check each webpage for compliance.

With over 80% of Internet search users owning a smartphone, and 48% of people starting their mobile research through search engines (Mobile Marketing Statistics 2015), it was only a matter of time before Google responded to these changing dynamics. As the importance of mobile user experience increases, Google is demanding that websites either jump on board or risk falling lower on mobile rankings.

Where will your website stand when Google’s Mobilgeddon is released? Need help to get your mobile content ready for this next big change? Give us a call at 888-646-8003 or send us an email.

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