In April, Google launched its major algorithm update that will impact every website in the world. Is your business’s website ready?
Before we dive into the nitty gritty of this latest algorithm update, it’s worth understanding exactly what Google is all about. Google’s number one goal is to give their users the best possible user experience. Each time you search for something via their site, they want to deliver the most relevant results for your needs fast, so you can get on with your day as quickly as possible.
In the past few years, Google has come to recognise a huge amount of searching is being done via mobile devices. Thus, it’s become important to them if they’re sending someone to your site that your website is easy to view on a mobile device.
This desire underpins this latest update.
Now is a good time to take note, Google does not usually announce the specific date of an upcoming update to their ranking algorithm. The fact they not only gave a specific date in this instance, but also so much warning, indicates this particular update is going to be significant.
What elements of your site will google be looking at?
If you’ve ever visited a website on a mobile device and found it doesn’t resize to fit your screen, has barely readable text, and links that are hard to click on, you’ll be familiar with what Google considers ‘poor user-experience’. Google doesn’t want websites that deliver poor user experience showing up in their search results.
Put simply: if your site does not function well on a mobile device, Google will not show it when people search in Google.
Here are some of the elements Google will be looking at:
• Size of text
• How easy the font is to read onsmaller screens
• Spacing of your touch elements e.g. howclose links are together
• Page load time from a mobile device
• Whether your site is responsive (itchanges size depending on the screen size it’s being viewed from)
• If you have a mobile version of your site, you’ll potentially be penalized if it links through to pages that are not mobile-friendly (very common for mobile versions of websites).
How do you know if you will be impacted?
You can use the Mobile Friendly Test. All you need to do here is enter the URL of any page on your site and you can check each page individually.
If your site has numerous pages, the Mobile Friendly Test can be quite a time-intensive process. Fortunately, Google has a tool to help bulk-check your site.
If your site is setup in Google Webmaster Tools, you can generate a complete site report that will identify how many of your pages (if any) are currently not mobile-friendly and therefore putting your site’s Google rankings at risk of plummeting.
It’s important to note these tests are not without flaws and you may get a false-positive or false-negative. If you’re at all unsure, check with your web designer or someone that can take a quick look at your site prior to the update.
Officially, 27.51 per cent of internet usage in Australia is done on a mobile device. In some industries, mobile device searches on Google are significantly higher. For example if you offer emergency plumbing services, car towing services and other “I really need help now” types of services, the majority of people that come to your website ready to buy, will be doing so on a mobile device.
It’s unclear yet how this update is going to unfold and impact. If your site is non mobile-friendly we do not know yet whether that means you’re going to take a hit in Google rankings across the board (including for desktop searches), or if it’s only going to be limited to searches on a mobile device.
With an update that shapes to be potentially the biggest of 2015, it’s important to act now and check your site via the resources provided by Google and referenced above.
If you’re unsure of how to do that, reach out to an online marketing professional or your web designer (both of whom will no doubt be very busy over the coming weeks helping people to get their websites update-ready).