Google are not known for giving website owners and SEO professionals’ hints on major algorithm changes. But every so often they like to surprise us! Google have announced that an algorithm change is on its way- and it’s going to be a big one. Starting from the end of this month; mobile-friendliness will be included as an SEO ranking factor.
Did you know that 90% of smart phone users search for local information via their phone? In response to the growth of searches done on mobile and tablet devices, Google has announced that their new algorithm change will include mobile-friendliness as a SEO ranking factor.
Such direct details are rare from the search engine giant. Firstly they’ve given us a date of when the changes will be rolled out – April 21st. And they’ve told us that this update will impact all mobile searches, in all languages worldwide.
At this point you may be wondering if your website is mobile-friendly.
Here’s how you can check:
- Go to this website https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/
- Submit the URL of your website for a Mobile- Friendly Test
- Wait for your website to be analysed (it should take about 15 seconds or so)
- You will either receive a green box of approval, telling you how awesome your website is or a red box followed by points as to why your website isn’t mobile-friendly.
What do you do if your site is not mobile-friendly:
If the mobile-friendly test came back to you with the red box of disapproval, don’t panic. Google offers a lot of guidance in helping site owners make their sites mobile-friendly. This website provides a guide that is an easy to follow for any webmaster to ensure their sites, or selected site pages are mobile-friendly.
Also note, just because your website shows up on a mobile device does not necessarily make it mobile-friendly. Mobile-friendliness is judged on the responsiveness of the site and its ability to adapt in order to make it easier for users to access and use the site on a mobile screen.
Why are Google doing this?
Google’s core focus is to ensure the best possible experience for its users. With more than 60 percent of all Google searches being carried out on mobile devices they’re applying the same notions of user experience to this traffic too. For that reason, they want users to get the most relevant results, regardless of if the information is on a desktop or a mobile device. On their blog, Google have said “as more people use mobile devices to access the internet, our algorithms have to adapt to these usage patterns. In the past, we’ve made updates to ensure a site is configured properly and viewable on modern devices.” As a result, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimised for their devices
Things to know:
- Unlike the Penguin algorithm change, which was a site wide penalty, the mobile-friendliness algorithm change is determined at page level. Prioritise your most important pages to be completely mobile friendly to begin with.
- Keep in mind, just because your home page is mobile-friendly that doesn’t mean the rest of your site is. Check each individual page of your site for mobile responsiveness. Consider improving pages with the highest user activity and where users perform a conversion.
- There have been indications that this algorithm update is expected to be bigger and more impactful than the Penguin and Panda algorithm changes.
- The algorithm runs in real-time, so as soon as Google crawls your site and picks up that your site’s mobile-friendliness has changed, your site will start to benefit from the new algorithm.
- This is a mobile only update; tablet friendless is not impacted by this change.
With more and more people carrying out mobile searches each day, and given that these algorithm changes are on their way; a mobile-friendly website is definitely the way to go. If you have any questions or would like some guidance, feel free to get in touch with your ReachLocal representative or Contact us here.