Changes to mobile search algorithm will penalize sites that aren’t mobile-friendly.
If mobile hasn’t been on your mind lately, it should be now. More than ever, internet users are turning to their smartphones to surf the web and now Google is making it mandatory to give them a good experience. With Google’s recent changes to the mobile search algorithm, websites that aren’t optimized for mobile users now risk losing rankings in the mobile search results. Do you already have a mobile site? You’re still not in the clear. Common mistakes with redirection, unplayable media and 404 errors can still wipe out your rankings. Here’s what you need to know to prepare for the changes.
- Check if your site is accessible to mobile users – If you don’t have a mobile site, you’ll want to check your current website across different devices to make sure your content and media are compatible for mobile and tablet users. You can test your site here to see what it looks like on a smartphone. It’s also a good idea to access your site from different devices to see if everything functions properly.
- Create a mobile site – If your current website does not convey across the different devices, then you should consider a mobile compatible site. Google supports these main options for serving your website to mobile users:
- Responsive web design – This is Google’s recommended method for serving content to mobile users. Responsive web design is the most seamless option, showing the same HTML to users on all devices, using only CSS to change how the pages render across devices.
- Serving different HTML to mobile & desktop users – This option serves different HTML and CSS for each page depending on whether the user is searching from their phone or desktop.
- Using different URLs for desktop & mobile users – You can also choose to have your mobile site on an entirely different URL like m.example.com and use redirects for users who access your original URL from a mobile device.
- Check your mobile site for any of these common mistakes – Whether you have a mobile site or not, you need to check for these common errors. These are the factors that will be taken into consideration for Google’s algorithm and sites with these errors will risk penalties.
Some media, like embedded videos on your website, may not be compatible with smartphones. Specifically, media that requires Adobe Flash. Make sure all embedded media on your current website is also playable on smartphones by using HTML5 standard tags.
Some websites that work for desktop users may not be compatible with smartphones, showing users a 404 error when they try to access your site from their phone. Check to see if your website serves mobile users 404 errors when they attempt to access to URL. If so, you’ll want to redirect them to a smartphone-friendly page or even the desktop page rather than serving the 404.
For those who use a different URL to serve users on a mobile site, make sure your pages from your desktop site are redirected to the exact page on the mobile site. For example, your server may be configured to redirect all mobile users to your mobile site’s homepage. In this case, you’ll want to redirect users to the equivalent mobile page, taking them to the page they expect to see.
Just like page speed is a factor with regular desktop sites, it’s also the case for mobile. If your mobile site is taking a while to load, it could cost you your rankings. It is recommended that a mobile site should take no longer than 5 seconds maximum to load. You can test the load speed of your site here.
For those who have put mobile optimization on the backburner, this may be the kick-start you needed to get things going with a mobile optimized site. Providing a great mobile user experience is that much more essential now that rankings are also at stake, so check your site thoroughly and take the necessary actions to make it mobile-friendly.
If you have any questions about the algorithm changes, how to check your site for mobile compatibility or which steps to take to avoid mobile search penalties, feel free to contact us!
Submitted by Erica Machin, Titan Growth