Google is making some changes on how it ranks websites in their search results. The latest update will be unleashed next week and specifically favours websites that are mobile-friendly.
So, What is a Mobile-Friendly Site?
A mobile-friendly site is simply a site is optimized for hand-held devices, such as a smartphones and tablets. It must load fast, be easy to read, easy to navigate, with minimal scrolling and avoid using Flash.
Making Your Site Mobile-Friendly: Where to Start
Thankfully, Google has created a few tools and resources you can assess to make the relevant changes.
Their first tool is their Mobile-Friendly Test. This allows you to enter the URL of your website and analyze its status. And it will show you specific items that are not mobile-friendly. For example, if the content is too wide or the links are too close together. It will show you how a Googlebot views your screen. And analyzes which content management system (CMS) you use, suggesting the relevant technical guide for your system.
Updating Your CMS
Making your site mobile-friendly could be as simple as updating your CMS to the latest version and applying the necessary security upgrades.
Assessing Your Custom Theme
Another tip is to analyze your website’s theme. If it is a custom off-the-shelf theme, you can check if it is mobile-friendly or responsive. Older themes may not have the capabilities to become mobile-friendly, so you may need to make some big changes and update your theme.
Navigation: Less is More
It’s important to think about your navigation. Less is more when it comes to mobile. Try to limit the number of option per menu and never have more than two layers
Optimize Your Images
Speed is a big part of Google’s algorithm. Large images slow down the speed your web page loads, which can therefore affect your rankings. Decrease your image size and weight to increase your speed.
What Will Be Unaffected by the Algorithm?
The good news is, this new algorithm will only affect the organic search listings (the blue links at the bottom of the page). Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst, Gary Illyes, confirmed last week that the Local Pack results (the businesses listed with links to Google Maps and Google reviews) will be unaffected. So, if your focus is on your local market, and you only want to rank high in those listings, you can breathe a sigh of relief.
Mobile Search Only
The other important thing to remember is that Google is not making changes to its desktop rankings, just its mobile search rankings. However there is a lot of speculation that mobile-friendliness will impact desktop rankings in the near future too.
Mobile Friendliness is About More Than Pleasing Google
Although Google has created urgency around making your website mobile-friendly, it’s something that is becoming increasingly important to consumers.
In a recent article by Insights West they said that over 68 per cent of British Columbians own a smartphone and almost three-quarters, 73 per cent, of those used that smartphone to research products or services. So really, Google is just confirming what everyone has already suspected to be true. Now is the time to optimize your website and attract more customers. Stop yourself from slipping off the search rankings.