No Time to Wait – Google’s Mobile Update Is Coming
Unlike other Google algorithm updates that came without warning, at least the upcoming one on April 21st was announced, along with at least a little information of what to expect. According to Google’s announcement, the new search algorithm and Search Engine Results Pages (SERP) will take into consideration whether a website is mobile-friendly and those that are not will be penalized. Non-optimized sites will not only take a hit in rankings but will also be difficult to find and be clicked on by mobile devices. Running a few tests for non-mobile sites, Google Webmaster Tools display this warning:
“Google systems have tested X pages from your site and found that 100% of them have critical mobile usability errors. The errors on these X pages severely affect how mobile users are able to experience your website. These pages will not be seen as mobile-friendly by Google Search, and will therefore be displayed and ranked appropriately for smartphone users.”
The change comes due to the large and growing increase in mobile device use and mobile searches and Google’s desire to deliver user-friendly experiences no matter what device might be used for viewing a website. SEO industry experts, Moz, have a more detailed, advanced break down: Google’s Mobile Update: What We Know So Far
If You Don’t Have a Mobile-friendly Website, Now is the Time
Besides the impending update, another equally compelling reason to invest in making sure your website is responsive is to make sure visitors going to your site via mobile or tablet can easily browse and take the action you want while on their phone, iPad or Kindle.
There is nothing worse than pulling up a site and having to squint or manipulate the screen to try to make the text bigger to find the information you’re searching for. As mobile users become savvier, their expectations of a site being mobile friendly are higher and sites that don’t deliver will experience higher bounce rates.
Tools to Test if Your Site is Mobile-Friendly
Google has created a free, easy-to-use mobile-friendly testing tool that tells you whether your site passes their criteria, along with recommended improvements you need to make if it doesn’t. While you’re using this tool, you may also want to check your site for loading speed. Webmaster Tools is another way to find out a full list of mobile usability issues on your site.
I decided to test out my own and several of my client’s websites with Google’s free tool and got what seemed like unreliable results. When I first put in the URL to my own site, it said it failed and was not mobile-friendly. I then entered the same websie address again a few minutes later and it said, “Awesome! This page is mobile-friendly.” This happened testing out other domains as well, so if you decide to use this tool, you may want to try it a few times. There are rumors Google will work out the nuances of the tool as the update rolls out.
In the meantime, Search Engine People offer up other options for testing the mobile-readiness of your site in their recent article: 5 Tools To Test if Your Website is Mobile-Friendly. I personally have had more accurate results with BrowserStack, a tool I’ve used consistently to test the responsive websites I’ve launched.
Why Wait to Be Mobile-Friendly
There is no time like the present to make sure your current website –or the one you dream of having– is responsive and mobile-friendly. Every responsive website launched by Clapper Consulting passes the Google Test for being mobile-friendly. In fact, quite frankly, it upsets me when I see that someone has recently launched a website that ISN”T. I just can’t imagine taking a client through the whole design and development process and not delivering a responsive website in our increasingly digital and mobile age. Ranting aside, if you need an affordable web designer who can deliver a beautiful, user and mobile-friendly site within a quick turn-around time, Clapper Consulting would be happy to be of service.
And If You Need a SEO Expert…
I can’t help but give a shout out to Alan Bleiweiss, who performs world class SEO audits and provides training and consulting to companies all over the world. If you need an SEO expert who can perform a spot-on, thorough audit either before or after Google’s update rolls out, he’s your guy.