Google is changing things again on the 21st April, this time the whole issue is about how friendly a site is to mobile devices. This of course does not mean it has a nice chat with them (sites can’t do that, at least at the moment…) but rather how ‘good’ the site looks. This covers lots of areas, like if the navigation visible, is the text too small, do the images shrink to fit the size of the devices screen, etc etc (which vary much more than desktop screens).
It is a complicated matter, and as this excellent article says, there is more to do than just making the website ‘fit’ on a smartphone’s screen, but also, in some cases, what content you provide for each sort of device…
Please read the article, and if you have any questions or need help, please do drop us a line, we are always ready to help!
In 1998, it was important for the owner of an online business to be listed in Yahoo’s directory. That could bring you enough traffic to be profitable. Today, if there’s any equivalent to that tsunami of targeted traffic, it’s in mobile search.
Without a mobile-friendly website, people searching for your products and services on smartphones and other mobile devices won’t find you as easily on Google. Customers decide what to buy, when, and from where — right on their smartphones!
Business owners cannot afford to ignore or avoid this trend. So how can you prepare for mobile search?
Following are the most frequently asked questions I get about mobile search. This isn’t a step-by-step guide to mobile SEO, but hopefully it should cover some of the more pressing issues faced by business owners in adapting to the shift to mobile.
Question 1: Why Do We Need A Mobile-Friendly Website?
As of April 21, when Google rolls out its new mobile-friendly algorithm, sites that aren’t mobile-friendly will rank lower in search results than if they were mobile optimized.
The search engine won’t block or remove your site for not being optimized for mobile search (as Google Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller recently confirmed), but you’ll have fewer sales because mobile searchers won’t be able to find you as easily. If your competitor has a mobile-friendly website, they’ll have a distinct ranking advantage over you.
Question 2: Is It True That A Mobile-Friendly Website Is Optimized For Mobile Search And Doesn’t Need SEO?
Absolutely not. “Mobile-friendly” only means that your website renders nicely on a mobile device. In other words, your content will be presented neatly on any smartphone or tablet.
But just because your site looks good on a mobile device doesn’t mean it’s optimized for mobile search. Mobile optimization depends on several factors like technical implementation, coding and content. It requires an integrated effort across multiple disciplines, including off-page factors.
Question 3: How Can I Tell If A Page Is Mobile-Friendly Or Not?
A quick way to determine if a page is mobile-friendly or not is to use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test Tool. This test will not only assess whether your page has a mobile-friendly design, but will also offer specific advice on where improvements can be made.
Question 4: We’re Already Doing Traditional SEO — Do We Also Need Mobile SEO?
Though traditional SEO is already complex, mobile search requires more specialized knowledge. Search results change based on location and device, so the rules are also changing frequently. See this not as a limitation, but an opportunity to gain an advantage.
Question 5: How Is Mobile SEO Different From Local SEO?
While local search relates to your city or town, mobile search is “hyper-local” and pertains to exactly where you are at the moment. The key difference is a focus on PEOPLE. Google displays different results on mobile searches that are unique, personalized and relevant to the searcher. As mentioned above, it also takes into account your website’s mobile-friendliness.
Question #6: Should Content Be The Same For Mobile Units And Desktops?
Trying to dump the same code and content from a webpage designed for desktops to a smartphone will adversely affect your conversion rate and sales. You must look beyond code and styling, to consider the intent and meaning of each page to your audience.
Question #7: What Is The Best Mobile Configuration For Us?
The truth is, the right choice for you depends on a variety of factors: your website content, your technological capabilities, your budget/resources, your industry, your business goals, your conversion points, and your visitors’ expectations all play a role in dictating which mobile configuration works best for your website.
Google recognizes three different configurations for mobile sites (you’ll find more technical information in this guide):
1. Responsive design: Desktop content is adapted to render nicely on a mobile unit, as described here. This means URLs of pages won’t change and digital analytics with reporting is easier. However, resizing and re-formatting the same content for various devices may not deliver great results.
2. Dynamic serving: The web server ‘sniffs’ a user’s browser and then serves up appropriate HTML based on device information, as described here.
3. Separate mobile sites: Visitors on a smartphone are directed to a separate mobile URL (such as http://m.yourcompany.com) that is optimized with different, device-specific code and content, as described here.
You can optimize the design, content and call-to-action more intelligently based on your user’s needs. I recommend getting a good technical SEO consultant to advise on planning and implementation.
Question #8: Traffic From Mobile Units Doesn’t Convert Well — So, Is Mobile Search Not Important?
There are many reasons for poor conversion with mobile traffic, such as:
Your content doesn’t fit the unit well, forcing people to pinch and zoom or making it harder to click on links or calls-to-action.
The page displays too much information (or other distractions/noise), causing visitors to bounce before they can convert.
The page contains elements that don’t render on a mobile device, such as Flash.
There are problems with your site’s analytics configuration, tracking and reporting.