Google might be embroiled in a massive antitrust suit in Europe, but that doesn’t mean that operations have stopped by any means.
One thing that has just about every tech blog, marketer, content strategist and web developer sweating is impending search algorithm change from Google. Sweeping changes to the way search functions will focus on how a website is viewed on mobile devices like phones and tablets. The changes -- prompted by the meteoric rise of mobile searching -- will penalize websites for either not having a good mobile platform or responsive design and boost those that do.
In a big change for the search giant, Google has been very open about the algorithm change and clearly stated that come April 21, mobile performance will become a ranking signal.
If you haven’t been following the developments, time is running out to update your site. Here are a four tips to see how your website will fare in the coming Mobilegeddon:
1 Test your site. Do this right now; it only takes a few minutes. You can use the convenient Google Mobile-Friendly Test. More tech savvy people can also use PageSpeed Insights or Google Webmaster Tools to get a more detailed look at your site and any mobile issues it might have.
2 Be responsive. To be the most mobile friendly, a site must pay attention to how large the device screen is and respond to that size. So the framework of the site must include ways to read screen size and change how content displays – there are many ways of doing this that vary between platforms. But the most common way to be responsive is through the use of @media tags that determine what size a screen is and alters the CSS accordingly.
A full redesign of your website might just not be feasible with a scant five days until Google shakes things up. But if you have an in-house developer or are using a content management system like WordPress, you can still make some important tweaks. Website owners can also look into a secondary mobile website that directs mobile users to a separate site automatically. Both make your site mobile friendly in Google’s eyes. (Just be sure the website does this automatically or Google will still ding you in search.) Google has some guidelines for mobile that can direct a developer.
3 Create content for mobile. Mobile users want information fast. They don’t want to scroll through long pages or complicated menus. Make your mobile site easy to navigate to the most common information. For a boat dealer, it might be wise to keep hours of operation at the top. For manufacturers, bite-sized bits of information and small, crisp images are key. Videos should be short and get right to the point.
4 Don’t panic. Last but not least, stay calm. Don’t go painting Mobilegeddon on the front window and flee for the bunker. If your site isn’t ready, it will certainly fall in the rankings. But nobody outside of Google knows just how strong of a signal it will be and how it will actually change how search works. If your site is out of date or needs a lot of work to become responsive, put a plan in place. Google, and the Internet, will still be here when that work is done.