An Imminent Google Algorithm Update
Come Tuesday, April 21, we will be witnessing the release of Google’s mobile-friendly ranking algorithm, set to eclipse the Panda and Penguin algorithms before it in both impact and reach for SERPs (search-engine result pages).
The Google Algorithm Update will take up to a week to go global. It’s a yes/no type of algorithm in that you can only be mobile-friendly or not, with no in-between. If you have the mobile-friendly label in a live Google search as we speak, you’re off the hook. All mobile-friendly labelled sites receive a slight ranking boost, while those misconfigured for smartphones will be looking at a downgrade.
The mobile-friendly testing tool should also confirm whether your website is mobile optimized or not, but bear in mind that Webmaster Tools’ mobile usability reports will most likely be delayed by crawl time. To begin with, any mobile friendly website should have small font sizes, tap targets and button links should not be too close together, the content should be readable, the viewport should be set, and the viewing range should be clutter-free. Still, there are over 200 factors that determine whether you have a mobile friendly website, so there isn’t a clear-cut answer.
The incentive for the Google algorithm update, however, couldn’t be any clearer. Nearly 50% of all Google traffic is now mobile, and there are 1.5 billion mobile internet users, according to a Smart Insights report. Businesses relying heavily on Internet searches for their sales can’t afford to rest on their laurels, either. For those without responsive site design, the Google algorithm update is bound to hit their rankings hard.
Responsive or Mobile Only? Take Your Pick!
There’s still time to build a mobile or responsive website. You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting mobile optimization solutions. Google recommends a responsive website, whereby the same website will serve all the devices users may have, with every page adapting to the device in question. However, if your website was built long ago, it may mean that it could be easier to set up a new site from scratch, than to try to tweak it.
Another option is the dynamic serving website, which detects the user’s device and automatically displays whichever pages were specifically created for that device. The result would be a cost-effective, personalized solution for all users. This may come with inconsistent content and serious maintenance issues, though.
Yet another option is having a separate website for mobile users. This would mean that, whenever mobile users access your site, they will automatically be redirected to a different URL. Tablet users would most likely still be shown the desktop version. Still,, the problem with inconsistency and maintenance would spring up.
The last option is the mobile app. It tends to come as a bonus to any of the options above, not a stand-alone feature. Considering 89% of general mobile media time is spent on apps, the app’s utility is unquestionable. Still, it’s only real advantage would be the fact that it can provide tailored customer experiences, and this is quickly outweighed by the cost of running it.
Don’t Delay The Time is Now!
In a nutshell, responsive site design cancels out the need for any alternate website versions or extra apps, and ensures consistent text and service throughout. Additionally, using Flash, separate mobile URLs, irrelevant cross-links from desktop to mobile versions, can end up harming your website’s mobile-readiness, and these are issues that don’t apply to responsive websites. Needless to say, if you don’t heed Google’s warning, you stand to lose a good deal of business. Worst of all, the impact that the current loss in sales would have on your future business prospects will probably be exponential.
Another element to bear in mind is the fact that mobile friendliness is determined at page level, not across the entire website, and a dedicated mobile index is currently in the works at Google. A responsive website designer the likes of Bryant Consulting will see to it that the website is poised to deliver the optimum customer experience for mobile, desktop, tablet and even smartwear users alike. We will audit and analyze your mobile friendliness, compare your website to competing websites, trace mobile ranks and keyword trends across all device types, measure these elements page-by-page, optimize your website according to Google’s best practices and refine the ensuing changes.
These are some of the elements your dedicated team at Bryant Consulting will have in mind when building your responsive website. Best of all, we can have your mobile optimized website ready in time for the algorithm release.