Recently Google made a major announcement regarding mobile-friendliness as an SEO ranking signal. In brief, starting 21 April 2015 Google will be changing its algorithm such that the mobile search results will favour content that is optimised for mobile devices.
Here are our 5 recommendations what to do if you don’t have a mobile friendly website.
We are already starting to see shifts in mobile search rankings, with rankings dropping for websites having mobile usability issues on their website.
The answer to keeping your mobile rankings, quite simply, is to fix your website and make it mobile friendly. But you also need to manage the situation carefully, and have a plan of action to successfully
1. Find out if you have a mobile friendly website or not
First, get your facts straight. Use Google’s mobile friendly website checker to determine if your website is configured properly and viewable on mobile devices. If your site passes, then you have nothing to worry about. But if your site doesn’t pass, the tool will provide you with a set of recommendations for improvements, and you can determine just how bad the problem is.
In this example, we can see construction equipment manufacturer JCB does not pass the mobile friendly check, and the checker provides 4 detailed recommendations:
Alternatively, Google may have alerted you to problems with your website via email. These messages have been going out for several months now to website owners, and Google has been giving strong signals of the importance of a mobile friendly website. This message originates from Google Webmaster tools:
2. If you have a problem, you aren’t going to get a new responsive website built by the deadline of 21 April
Don’t worry. Google has given you an important warning, but you don’t need to have a knee jerk reaction. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it may be you can’t get this problem fixed in just a few weeks. Developing a new website is a big investment, and will take some planning and effort to get right. No matter how costly it is, this is an issue your business is going to need to address.
Take this opportunity to reassess you web presence and plan your new site. Whilst you are addressing your mobile issue, also take the chance to improve your usability and site architecture, and take the type to write up a web design brief for the new site.
If you need help writing your brief, or want recommendations for a reputable supplier, then just give us a ring.
3. Check your current mobile traffic levels
Review your own website Analytics to assess the levels of mobile traffic you’re currently receiving, and identify the levels of risk you are facing in terms of losing mobile rankings and mobile traffic. Google has been testing the new ranking changes since late January, so specifically check if you have been losing mobile traffic recently.
Also check to see how mobile traffic contributes to your business goals, which may include lead generation or keeping in touch with your existing customer base.
In the image below, we are checking the volume of traffic coming to our website from mobile search, with 14.5% coming from either a mobile or tablet. And we are also to see what proportion of those search visitors complete an enquiry form, and in this example just under 10% of the enquiries.
And more importantly, if your website does have mobile usability issues and you are still currently receiving high volumes of Google search traffic, then you need to have a contingency in place within the business for when you start to lose that traffic.
The 21 April update appears to only affect mobile searching so your traffic levels from desktop should not be a risk.
4. Identify the missed opportunity
However, the big risk is not the mobile traffic you are currently getting to your site, the risk is the mobile traffic you are currently missing because of your poor mobile rankings. Many businesses are underestimating the importance of mobile search traffic.
Undertake some keyword research to identify the mobile search levels for your particular business sector. You would typically expect high levels of mobile search activity to retail and leisure activities, but even B2B searches are typically showing 30% search volume on mobiles and tablets.
In this example, we can see the proportion of search volume for the phrase “plastic injection moulding companies” – and only 70% of searches take place on a Computer, meaning nearly a third of all searches are on a mobile device.
5. The level of urgency is commensurate with your target market mobile behaviour
Consider how important mobile is to your lead generation, online sales, or other key activities. If mobile is key to your success, then schedule and accelerate your development accordingly. If mobile isn’t a critical part of your acquisition and conversion path, then put together your project plan to get the problem fixed.
The 5 steps for addressing your mobile friendly website problem:
- Gather your evidence: identify whether your site is not mobile friendly
- Don’t make a knee-jerk reaction, and don’t build a new website in haste
- Check your current mobile traffic rankings and traffic levels
- Identify your missed business opportunity: how much traffic is out there that is going to your competitors, not to you
- Prioritise the mobile friendly problem according to your own business strategy