It’s no surprise that Google takes mobile optimization up another notch. After all, about 3.6 billion people are actively using their mobile devices to browse the digital landscape. What made search marketers jump out of their seats is the scale of Google’s impending mobile update, which will roll out on April 21.
As Zineb Ait Bahajji of Google’s Webmaster Trends team announced at SMX Munich, the upcoming mobile algorithm will have a bigger impact than Panda and Penguin. The algorithm will expand mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal, which will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide.
Will Your Rankings be at Risk?
While many online marketers know that mobile-friendliness takes up much credit as a ranking factor, Google was not clear about the specifics. Because of this, not all businesses optimize their website for mobile searches. This could spell trouble when the new algorithm hits.
Take this case as an example: If mobile searches generate a significant amount of your traffic and your site is not mobile-friendly, you could lose hold of all that incoming traffic. Rather than put your rankings at risk, you need to start working on your site’s responsiveness and configure it towards search user experience.
The Steps to Mobile Search Success
Even without Google’s upcoming algorithm, mobile-friendliness should have been at your priority list. It’s not too late to evade a hit from the update and protect your rankings from a sudden drop, though. Here are the steps to ensuring mobile search success amid the changes:
1. Test Your Site for Mobile-Friendliness
Google provides two tools that allow you to check if your site is mobile-friendly. You can use the Mobile-Friendly Test to determine if your site meets Google’s criteria on device responsiveness. Another way to determine site responsiveness is through the Mobile Usability Report from Google Webmaster Tools.
2. Optimize All Content (Whether Text or Rich Media)
It’s highly recommended to optimize all your content, be it videos, text, or images. When any of your content does not appear properly in device browsers (the text is not readable or the video is not supported by the device), users will likely turn away from your site. Google recommends using HTML5 animations, as these can work on all types of browsers.
3. Fix Your Mobile 404s
If you have a separate site for mobile devices, configure your site server to redirect mobile users to that version instead of serving 404s. Don’t redirect to other pages, as this only breaks the user experience. If you only have a desktop version of your site, make sure it follows a responsive web design.
4. Never Neglect User Experience
The whole point of Google’s mobile update is to enhance user experience on both desktop and mobile searches. Clichéd as it may sound, don’t optimize for search engines. Avoid anything that will hinder user experience – slow loading time, irrelevant cross-linking, app interstitials, or unreadable text.
Small preparations can go a long way, especially in the evolving digital landscape. As long as you streamline user experience and make your strategies scalable, you can safeguard your site from Google’s update and stay ahead of the competition.