April 21st has gone and past, and if you’re reading this, the world has not ended. Why is that date relevant? For the more SEO savvy folks, you’ll know that the 21st was the date Google had set to change its algorithm to better position those sites that featured responsive design – a change that had many business owners hitting the PANIC button and creating awful phrases like “Mobilegeddon”. In layman’s terms, Google will now rank its search results, in part (think 10-15%), based on how mobile-friendly the site is. This isn’t going to drop your organization to the bottom of the list in search, but the more SEO-savvy marketers out there will most assuredly take advantage of the chance to improve their organic search rankings. There have been rumblings about the change to mobile-friendly algorithms in the past, but with a hard deadline now imminent, many webmasters of small-businesses may be scrambling in the coming days to ensure they’re ready for what may prove to be a major milestone for SEO.
Verbiage aside – what does this mean for you? Are you ready for April 21st? What do you even need to do to ensure your website is mobile-ready? These are all very good questions and Google has provided us with a wealth of answers.
First thing’s first – check your website to see if everything checks out with Google with this Mobile Friendly Test. Chances are good that if you’ve had a website since before 2010, or that you’re unfamiliar with the concept of a mobile friendly site, you’ll likely get a message in big, ugly red letters saying: “Not mobile-friendly”. If that’s the case, don’t panic! Google does a fantastic job of walking you through the specific issues with your site, how Google’s index bots see your site, and what exactly you need to do to correct the issue(s).
Additionally, Google has a page on their developers page that will give you a crash course on what it means to make a site mobile friendly. You can check it out here. Perhaps one of the most important pieces of information available to you in this guide are these “Top Three Things (you) Should Know” about building a mobile site:
1. Make it easy for your customers! Essentially, keep it simple from landing on your website to making their way to your call to action. Don’t throw in more links than necessary, and keep content easy to read and understand.
2. Measure the effectiveness of your site by how easily mobile customers can complete common tasks. For example, put an item in their shopping cart and purchasing it should be as simple as this sentence. With two or three clicks, the customer should be ready to view their receipt for the item(s) they are purchasing.
3. RESPONSIVE WEB DESIGN. Justin, why did you put this last point in all-caps, you ask. Well dear reader, this is perhaps one of the most important things you can focus on to make your site mobile friendly. Responsive design, in a word, is compatibility. Does your website grow or shrink to match the size of the window it’s displayed on or does it remain the same size regardless? Responsive sites will adapt to screen size, meaning they will more easily adjust to being viewed on hand-held devices. The important note here is that you can view the same URL and code on different devices with your site adjusting to the size of the screen.
Finally, take a look at this additional list of items to keep in mind when adjusting your website to be mobile friendly. The key thing to remember here is that there are many organizations out there that are facing the same concerns as you. Taking advantage of the situation now may mean the difference between ranking in the top 10 or the top 50 in organic search, and your customers will be happy to have easier access to a site they already frequent!