Another Google algorithm update is on the way, and it could well be a bigger update than Panda or Penguin so it might just be worth taking notice of.
In a new move Google have announced what the algorithm change will be, before it actually happens! From April 21st whether your site is mobile friendly will be a ranking factor.
What does mobile friendly actually mean?
How many times have you visited a website on your mobile smartphone only to find that you have to tap/pinch/zoom to be able read the text or view the images?
These sites are not mobile friendly, a mobile friendly website would have delivered you a version of the site optimised for the size of screen you’re viewing from.
This isn’t directing visitors to a separate mobile website either, it’s about having one website that adapts itself to the mobile device that is viewing it.
Why are Google concerned about “mobile friendly”?
77% of mobile searches occur at home or at work, places where desktop computers are likely to be present. Google have this data and want to make their results as relevant and as mobile friendly as possible.
What do we know?
- The update will roll-out over a week starting April 21st.
- Pages are either mobile friendly or they’re not, there’s no “degree’s of mobile friendliness”.
- You can check whether Google thinks you are mobile friendly on individual pages using the Mobile Friendly Test. For site wide reporting check the Mobile Usability section of Webmaster Tools.
- Google have produced a guide on being mobile friendly.
What should I check?
Start by checking that your website resizes itself when you shrink your browser window, if it does your half way there! If half of the site is off the screen and inaccessible you really need to be thinking about making your site “responsive”.
If you use a CMS platform (such as WordPress) or a shopping cart then lots of themes for these products are mobile friendly / responsive, you should consider switching to one before the algorithm update. If your site was a custom build you should probably talk to the developer (or us!) about making your site responsive.
The most common two errors if you have a mobile friendly / responsive sight already are:
- Fonts too small:
Google considers your font to be too small to be legible on a small screen size, they provide some font-size recommendations.
- Touch elements too close together:
When viewed on a smartphone, clickable elements are simply too close together meaning visitors tapping on links could easily mis-click. Guidance on sizing and distances for clickable elements.
All in all this update should be a good thing, it will bring sites that are better designed for all audiences further up in the search results. However it could mean you need to make major changes to your site (and you should start looking at these now!).
We’ve already started work converting sites in preparation for the mobile friendly algorithm update, so talk to us soon if you want us to assist you.