Why your website must be ready for Google’s mobile algorithm update

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If you ran a high street shop and someone threw a giant curtain over your building, you’d remove it sharpish. Surely the same should apply with your website?

Google has unveiled a major algorithm change that could cloak your website from the search rankings. Here’s what you need to know to keep your website visible.

What’s happening?

From 21st April Google is implementing an algorithm update which penalises websites that aren’t mobile-friendly. If your website doesn’t function properly on tablets, smartphones and other mobile devices, you could be pushed down the search rankings on mobile. The algorithm update will affect mobile searches in all languages across all corners of the world.

Why does it matter?

Without mobile optimisation, the danger is that your website could sink down Google’s search rankings like a stone. Not good. That means people using their mobile device to search for articles that you have written, services you specialise in or products you sell will likely be unable to find you unless your website functions smoothly on mobile devices.

All the noise coming from Google suggests the algorithm update is a big deal. Zineb Ait Bahajji – a member of Google’s Webmaster Trends team – was quoted at SMX Munich as saying that the algorithm change will have more of an impact on search rankings than either Panda or Penguin – two of the most significant algorithm updates Google has ever rolled out.

Why is it happening?

The use of mobile devices is surging.

Data on web usage suggests that mobile devices are now used for browsing more often than desktop and laptop computers. Google wants to stay ahead of the game and is rewarding websites that make life easy for mobile users.

In a blog post announcing the algorithm update, the search giant explained it like this: “As more people use mobile devices to access the internet, our algorithms have to adapt to these usage patterns.”

What do you need to do?

Already got a mobile-optimised website? Great, you don’t need to lift a finger!

If not, now’s the time to get your website shipshape for mobile.

Google have released a tool that tests whether or not your website is mobile-friendly. Just enter a URL and you can see whether your website gets a pass or fail, with pointers on how to get your site straight if it’s not up to speed.

It’s worth checking as many pages as you can. Just because your homepage is mobile-friendly don’t assume every other page is – especially if you have used different templates for different areas of your website. Google’s Mobile Usability Report is another free tool that gives you a more in-depth report on your website’s mobile-readiness through the eyes of Google’s search bots.

Worth hiring an expert?

If you are stuck for time or lack the coding skills to optimise your website, you may need to hire a freelance front-end web developer. (Playing around with unfamiliar code can be a dangerous game.) Google doesn’t have a preference between responsive design and a separate hosted mobile version of your website. As long as mobile user experience isn’t disrupted.

Any changes you make to the mobile-friendliness of your website will be recognised immediately by Google, pushing you back up the rankings where you belong.

In summary…

  • Google is updating its algorithm to reward websites that are mobile-friendly
  • Websites that don’t function on mobile devices will be pushed down the search rankings
  • The changes began taking effect on April 21st 2015

Any questions? Leave a comment and we will do our best to help.

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