You may have heard about Google’s latest search algorithm changes that are set to hit many businesses, lowering the website rankings of those not deemed to be mobile-friendly. The changes were announced a full two months ago in February and were released on 21st April. They will be rolled out over the next couple of weeks and look set to be the largest changes the search engine have made to their algorithm in recent years.
Dubbed ‘Mobilegeddon’, Google’s latest algorithm changes could create a huge negative impact on a wide range of websites across the globe and push more people towards responsive and adaptive forms of web design in a bid to step up to the competition.
In a world where SEO rankings are of crucial importance to so many companies, Google’s latest news could have serious repercussions for those sites failing to make the necessary changes.
But what do these algorithm tweaks mean in practicality and how can you best deal with them for your own website?
This blog post aims to provide some key pointers on how to deal with the fallout of the changes, and what to expect.
How can you tell if your site will be affected?
Helpfully, Google have provided an online tool which website owners can run to check how mobile-friendly their sites really are. You will find a mobile website usability test at google.co.uk/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly that displays your website as Google sees it, and identifies any areas that need to be improved.
What is being penalised in particular?
Although the exact details of the algorithm have not been released, points of concern to Google are:
- Sites displaying text that is too small to be easily read on a mobile device
- Links or navigation that are too small to be pressed with a finger
- Videos that are unplayable on smartphones
- Blocked image files
- Slow mobile pages
- Use of Flash
What else do you need to know?
At the moment, there are some key points to take on board:
- The update analyses at a page level, rather than site root level, so it’s important a site is completely optimised
- The new changes only impact mobile searchers and will have no impact upon desktop or tablet rankings
How can you minimise the fallout for your site?
On a practical level, there are several steps to take to ensure that your site is not negatively affected by the latest algorithm changes. You must…
- Ensure that text is legible (i.e. large enough) on smartphones
- Ensure that links or other ‘clickable’ elements are spaced well enough apart to be touched with a finger
- Ensure that Googlebots can crawl your site
- Make sure that all images, videos and animations are working on your mobile site and if not, provide an alternative
And to the future
It seems likely that these latest updates are just the start of Google’s drive to reward mobile-friendly sites and whilst these changes apply only to smartphones, other mobile devices seem likely to follow.
As such, many website owners will naturally be looking for ways to future-proof their sites and pre-empt the next round of changes. One way of doing so is to switch from a desktop only or a desktop + mobile solution to a responsive design approach whereby one site can adapt to any device type.
Although this is initially a greater outlay in terms of time and expense, in the long-term, it could well prove a more sustainable and SEO-friendly solution. What’s certain is that if your site isn’t yet mobile-friendly, there’s never been a more opportune moment to make those changes.