Beginning in late 2014 and early 2015, Google began discussing a future ranking factor that would revolve around websites being “mobile-friendly”. What Google meant by this is that they would begin evaluating a website’s accessibility and usability on different devices, and rank them accordingly. This is important because Google was extremely public about this update, something they are usually mum about, even going as far as to give a specific date for launch on April 21st, 2015.
So what made this ranking factor particularly important? Consider these facts about mobile usage from Google:
- 48% of internet research begins on search engines
- 74% searched on mobile using a search engine
- Consumers spend more than 15 hours per week on mobile research
- 93% of people who used mobile to research go on to make a purchase
- 94% of people with smartphones search for local information on their phones
Because of these statistics and many more, as well as search engine’s need to return not only relevant, but usable, results, it was no wonder that Google made this a public priority. It needed webmasters and marketers to understand the importance of optimizing their website for mobile usage, because their search results rely heavily on users being satisfied on their browsing experience. If that experience is less than optimal, users will go elsewhere to find what they need, not only for websites, but for search engines as well.
To push this forward, Google even provided multiple resources for webmasters to build and optimize for mobile:
These were posted to help webmasters and marketers begin implementing changes on their websites that would enhance the mobile experience for users and ultimately help increase visibility in search results. But, Google would not stop here with stressing the importance of mobile optimization moving forward, and continued to update their mobile ranking signals with yet another public announcement.
Welcome Mobile-Friendly 2
In March 2016, Google announced that they would be rolling out an update to their mobile search results that would increase the effectiveness of mobile ranking signals. On May 12th, 2016, Google rolled out that update.
It’s important here to note that this update is meant to increase the ranking signals of the current mobile-friendly update. Google stated:
“If you've already made your site mobile-friendly, you will not be impacted by this update.”
But, that does not mean that it should be ignored if your site is not mobile-friendly:
“If you need support with your mobile-friendly site, we recommend checking out the Mobile-Friendly Test and the Webmaster Mobile Guide, both of which provide guidance on how to improve your mobile site.”
This all be said, a website is a living, breathing, and changing thing. Therefore, mobile optimization is not just a one trick fix all. It requires time, planning, patience, and ongoing checkins with your analytics and teams to stay on top of issues.
Next Steps For You And Your Team
Next steps depend on where your website is in the mobile-friendly spectrum. You can use the testing tool above, as well as Search Console’s Mobile Usability report, to see what mobile issues Google is currently finding on your website. You’ll find your website falls into one of two categories:
- Your website is mobile-friendly
- Your website is not mobile-friendly
It really comes down to these two options, and these should be the only factors in your decision on how to move forward. Remember, if your website is already mobile-friendly, then this update will boost ranking ability for your mobile website and help you. If your website is not mobile-friendly, then you should do the following:
- Benchmark current mobile performance and rankings
- Review issues that Google is currently finding with your site
- Review issues that you find with your own eyes
- Prioritize issues found on your website with web team
- Assign tasks and responsibilities
- Set up KPI report scheduling to see progress / issues
Having a solid plan in place to remedy and analyze current mobile issues will not only benefit your website from a organic standpoint, but it will also help your team stay consistent in optimization across multiple levels - user experience, lead generation, content creation, and site structure. All of which help you in the long run, and ultimately give users what they want - a great experience. If you can do that, search engines will take note! Happy optimizing!
Should you and your team find that the issues with your website are beyond your capabilities or resources, feel free to take a look at the web development services that Marcel Digital provides, or to give us a shout. If your site is mobile-friendly and not generating leads the way it should be, take a look at our conversion rate optimization services. We would love to take a look and see how we can help your site run the best it can!
About the author
Tom has worked in digital marketing since he started his career over a decade ago, working across the project and account side of the business.