So if you work in SEO, you will be well aware that the 21st April 2015 is the day that Google really starts to take mobile usability seriously. This follows their announcement back in February which made their intentions clear: sites that deliver a strong mobile experience will be rewarded in mobile search results and those that don’t risk falling behind their competitors.
What you need to know
First of all, the mobile update is not the be all and end all for websites for the simple fact that it is one of many ranking factors (over 200) which Google takes into account. Yes, the update will mean Google takes mobile optimisation much more seriously, but other factors are still greatly important when Google ranks websites in the SERPs. For example, if you are the market leader with a great offering but not a mobile site, you’re unlikely to be suddenly outranked by a low quality site that does have one.
With that said, if you don’t offer a good mobile experience, it will be surprising if you do not lose some search engine exposure. Given the massive increase in the amount of mobile searches and the way mobile is continuing to grow, you risk losing a huge amount of traffic and business if you do not deliver a mobile-friendly site.
Is your site Mobile-Friendly?
The very first thing you should do is test your site using the Google Mobile-Friendly Test. By running your homepage through the tool, you will find out in seconds whether Google sees your site as mobile friendly. If it does, you’re eligible for the mobile-friendly badge in mobile SERPs and you’re as “safe” as you can be from dropping rankings when the update hits. Of course, if all the sites you are competing against are also mobile-friendly and do better than your site does when it comes to other ranking factors (strong links, citations, good content, etc.) then you won’t jump up above anyone, but you shouldn’t see harsh drops.
If your site comes up as not mobile-friendly, it’s time to take action.
Webmaster Tools Mobile Usability Report
Regardless of whether or not your homepage came up as mobile-friendly, the next place you should check is the Mobile Usability Report in Google Webmaster Tools. This is because just because your homepage is mobile ready, there may still be usability issues with some of your other pages.
This report will highlight any issues that Google has found when crawling your pages. These might include:
- Viewport not configured
- Content not sized to viewport
- Small font size
- Touch elements too close
- Flash usage
- Fixed-width viewport
You can read more about what each of these mean and how to resolve them here.
Working through these issues can help prepare your site both for the mobile update (to protect your search engine exposure) but also give mobile users a better experience. This can in turn lead to better conversion rates and increased user engagement.
For more detailed advice on preparing for the mobile update, Moz have put together a useful resource.
Need some help?
If you need any advice or support on getting your site mobile ready, please don’t hesitate to get in touch and I will do my best to help. I work at a trusted, multi-award winning digital agency and would be happy to refer you for more on-going support if necessary.
Feel free to leave a comment below!