What’s Behind Google’s Mobile-Friendly Factors
by Al Gomez
As SEO experts, we’re all aware that Google added mobile-friendly factors into their algorithm. Simply put: your website needs to be accessible across multiple mobile platforms such as smartphones and tablets. Otherwise, it will come as no surprise if you see a decrease in ranking. The search engine giant’s efforts towards better mobile experience for users have been launched as early as 2013, but huge changes to their algorithm regarding mobile devices were not so obvious until 2014.
According to Google’s official blog entry, they have also included app indexing along with mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor. App indexing lets websites connect their pages to specific content on their app.
Users with your app installed will see an ‘Open in App’ button in one of the search results. It’s practical for both users and website owners because it allows for one seamless viewing experience. For more information on how to take advantage of this deep linking strategy, take a look at these technical details from Google developers.
If your website is not yet mobile-friendly, it’s time to talk to your web developers or web design company. We’re not just talking about RWD or a responsive web design – it’s also about optimization. From links to content, their goal should be to create a wonderful experience for the customer who views them on their handhelds. No redirects, faulty CTA, or blurry images.
What Google Is Looking For
Aside from technicalities, there are three main things you should focus on when making your website mobile-friendly:
- ease of navigation
- website speed
Ease of Navigation
If there’s one trait most mobile users share, it’s impatience. Why? They’re usually on their handhelds because they’re on the go. And when you’re running late or out in a new city, the last thing you want is a delay in information. Quick, clear data through smooth transitions, prominent buttons, and simplified processes are crucial. Take check-out methods from shopping websites. A 3-step process is recommended nowadays because it’s fast, convenient, and still effective.
Examine your own ecommerce site to determine if you’ve made your check-out method as simple as possible. Look for common obstacles such as long fill-out forms, no Paypal options, or faulty redirects.
You may have amazing content – but if your site takes forever to load, you have a big problem in your hands. According to expert surveys, a user abandons a page that takes longer than 4 seconds to load all content. For shoppers, it’s a mere 2 seconds. Today’s technology has raised the bar for user expectations when it comes to mobile usability. Aside from load times, users are also concerned with freezing, crashing, and error pages.
This goes for both content and web layouts. Google recommends using a responsive web design (RWD) because it’s easy to manage. Employing a responsive web design has plenty of benefits. For one, you only have one URL and one set of codes to maintain. Second, your website remains viewable across multiple devices – whether your customer is on his smartphone or tablet. This leads to the third best benefit of RWD: being prepared for the future. Mobile usage can only get bigger as years pass; so it’s logical to create a site that can hold up to whatever changes search engines throw our way.
Take note though, that not every business can profit from RWD. For some, perhaps a dynamic web design or dedicated mobile website is better. Please ask your web developer and SEO specialist for professional advice.
Why Google Is Going All Out for Mobile
It cannot be denied that mobile users worldwide are growing every day. This is one of the main reasons why search engines like Google have incorporated this concept into their ranking metrics (even Bing is on a similar road). It’s safe to assume that we can expect more by the end of 2015, as the number of mobile users has blown to nearly 1.8 million back in 2014. In the U.S. alone, people spend 60% of their time online on mobile devices.
Every business would want to be where their customers are. So if the majority of your market likes to surf on their phones during commute between 7AM to 9AM, be there. Link your website with your app and encourage downloads. For those looking into new prospective markets, the mobile segment is also a lucrative place to begin.
How To Check Your Website’s Mobile-Friendliness
There are plenty of resources out there, of course. But your default go-to tool should be Google webmaster. Just go to Search Traffic, then find Mobile Usability. Here you will see factors that could be affecting mobile usage. Correct them as soon as possible for a seamless experience for your website visitors. Another useful tool to remember is Google’s own Mobile-Friendly Test. Simply enter your site’s URL, wait for a few seconds, and it will generate a thumbs up (or thumbs down, depending on your site’s performance).
A third tool for developers is within the browser itself. It’s called ‘device mode’; and it’s capable of emulating all kinds of mobile devices: from an Amazon Kindle to an iPhone 6 plus. With this tool, it’s never been simpler to view how your website looks on various platforms.
Other Things To Consider
Don’t be so busy with mobile SEO that you forget other important aspects of a successful website, such as measuring your conversions and ROI. Although this new algorithm factor will impact your ranking – it’s NOT everything. Google considers other elements like your backlinks, content, click-through-rate, and social signals to name a few. This is simply to remind website owners to take note of their mobile market. After all, they’re growing bigger. Digital marketing balance is key.
Optimize your website for mobile so you can be well-prepared for the future of ecommerce and the evolving digital landscape. However, be well-rounded too. Don’t simply jump into the bandwagon for fear of getting left behind. Seek professional digital marketing assistance if you must before making any decision. Get in touch with your SEO services for proper advice on how to approach mobile marketing today.
How about you? Is YOUR website prepared for this recent addition to Google’s ranking factors?
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