Websites that are not mobile-optimised can expect to see a drop in their search rankings if they have ignored Google’s forewarning earlier this year of an update to its algorithm in keeping with the surge in mobile search.
‘As we noted earlier this year, today’s the day we begin globally rolling out our mobile-friendly update. We’re boosting the ranking of mobile-friendly pages on mobile search results,’ the search engine giant announced on its webmaster blog yesterday.
Nicknamed Mobilegeddon, this update is expected to have a bigger impact on brands and businesses on mobile than its predecessors, the Penguin and Panda updates. Why? Because the earlier updates were examples of Google taking a more reactive approach in improving the ranking of quality sites and penalising those that tried to artificially influence rankings. This update on the other hand, is a more proactive one that is focused on improving web traffic to the site, which if not adhered to can cause brands to notice, Google warns, ‘a significant decrease in mobile traffic from Google Search’
For marketers, the message is clear: if your site isn’t mobile optimised yet, you run the risk of losing traffic to the site as well as losing out to competition.
For B2C sites in particular, this could mean bad news if ignored. A study conducted by Google in September 2012 found that nearly 75% of users prefer a mobile-friendly site. Building on the point made earlier regarding losing a competitive edge, this study found that 79% of people who don’t like what they find on the site will go back and search for it on another site.
Brand experts have overall welcomed this move. However, the general consensus from discussions online are that the impact of this mobile-friendly update will be felt most by the smaller brands that don’t have or feel the need for mobile-optimised platforms for their businesses, yet which will in the long run, benefit them.
‘This move was essential for Google to make. While some may say they are forcing the issue, and this will be painful for some brands, it actually will move the industry forward,’ says Steve Carbone, managing director and head of digital and analytics, MediaCom US to The Drum.
So there you have it – Google’s new rules. But in the search engine giant’s own words, ‘have no fear,’ if you haven’t mobile-optimised your site just yet there is still time to make the changes as the update rolls out globally.
Based on Google’s guidelines, Cision’s web analytics manager, Flavius Cerbu, offers some dos and don’ts that marketers need to keep in mind to help keep their site mobile-friendly and Google-happy.
DOS & DON’TS
– Make sure the text is adjusted for the mobile screen. It should be readable without users having to zoom in.
– Content (especially images) should be resized to mobile screen size with no horizontal scroll
– Clickable elements such a links, downloads and buttons, should be placed far enough apart to make tapping easy. Google suggests a minimum of 7mm width/height for primary tap targets and a minimum margin of 5mm between secondary tap targets. The average width of an adult’s finger pad is 10mm, and these dimensions can provide a usable interface while making good use of screen real estate.”
– Avoid using technologies that are not mobile-friendly such as Flash
Photo Courtesy of SEO on Flickr