Surviving Google's Mobile Algorithm Update

Surviving Google's Mobile Algorithm Update

Google's big mobile algorithm update happened overnight. Did you survive the potential demotion?

April 21st has come and gone. Did your site survive the algorithm update?

It was a change that seemed only fitting these days. As much as 35% of all online traffic comes from a mobile device, and I'm sure if you've reviewed your site analytics on a regular basis, you would have noticed mobile traffic is constantly growing.

How Bad is the Damage?

Bloggers worldwide called the update "Mobilegeddon", but let's not head for the hills just yet. Google's intentions of releasing a new mobile-friendly algorithm go back to this past February, an unusual move of the search engine giant to give such ample time for webmasters to update their sites. So what was required to evade a big ranking hit? Ensuring your site is not only mobile-friendly, avoiding these common mistakes in smartphone sites, and these bigger issues that often scare visitors away from your website:

  • Unplayable videos (Tip: if you’re using video content, take a look at some of your older posts to see if it looks right on your mobile. Probably not.)
  • Pages not optimised for speedy loading on mobile devices (Tip: If you have a flash intro or splash page, please kill it now. That goes for your 'normal' website, too.)
  • Too many pictures (Tip: Use the data URI scheme to reduce the need to load a picture.)

Most of the tips Google serves up are common sense, really. If you start thinking about your mobile site with the rules and parameters in place around it that have been in practice since the days of the 56kbps modem (and earlier), it all makes sense.

If the above isn't followed, you will find yourself receiving an organic demotion. Your SEO ranking could drop as much as 50%! Imagine ranking on Page 1 for a series of keywords, and then overnight you're found on Page 5 or worse.

How to Know if You're in the Clear

You might be reading this asking yourself, "Was my site affected?" and rushing over to see if it shows up nicely on your smartphone. It might work just fine on one screen but it does not mean it's optimised for all of them out there. 

Simply test your site's URL on this test page, that analyses the mobile usability of your site. 

If you fail the test, the page will outline what areas need updating and fixing. Some problems might include the content being wider than the screen, links being too close together, or important elements blocked by robots.txt

So, What Now?

In short, it means that if you don't have a mobile website, your rankings are going to take a major organic hit if they have not already. The answer is really simple and you've got two options:

  • If your IT is in-house, meet with them to see what needs to be done to pass Google's mobile-friendly test.
  • If you don't have a IT team, reach out to a digital agency that specialises responsive web design and get a mobile-optimised website. 

Although this update has been trying for many, it's simply a necessary part of innovation. If your website is in a very competitive industry, having a mobile-friendly site could be the difference in having a front-page listing. Your mobile website may be at the bottom of the results page today, but if you think that digital is the way of the future, then here's a nudge to move it towards the top of your list.

Still stumped on how to act? Give us a call and we'll be happy to walk you through the process. 

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