Google has officially given marketers the signal to mobile-optimise their sites, affecting search engine marketing in a big way. Search results (in all languages) will favour mobile-friendly sites, from April 21, 2015.
Marketers would do well to pay attention. The message is loud and clear: Want your websites to remain discoverable in Google search? Make them mobile-friendly.
The Evolving Trinity of Search
The three main algorithms – Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird – have guided marketers in their efforts to provide the best quality, relevant content to their users when they search.
- Panda ensures that search results return high-quality sites. It pushes websites with little or duplicate content (among others) down in search results
- Penguin cracks down on spamdexing – tactics like repeating keywords multiple times to show a site higher in search results
- Hummingbird takes the context of the search into account, ranking pages that match the meaning of the search instead of just keywords
Lately, Google has been aiming to take advantage of the rapid mobile proliferation. Having introduced ‘mobile-friendly’ as a label in search last year, they have gone one step further to actually give precedence to mobile-friendly sites in search results.
Always Look On The Bright Side
This new update opens new doors for website visibility, rather than being detrimental to your search engine marketing. With rising mobile penetration across the world, websites will be accessed through smartphones more than ever.
It is well past time to deliver your website to your users’ smart devices. Now the key is to provide the best user experience while they are at it.
First step in this direction: test how mobile-friendly your website is through Google’s Webmaster Tools. Find errors that might be holding your website back.
Here are a few more tips for you to take advantage of Google’s update.
1. Use responsive design on your website
A separate mobile version of your site can be time-consuming and incompatible with all devices. Responsive design is now a necessity – not a distinguishing feature.
2. Extend responsive design to content as well
User experience does not only entail design – content also has to cater to all devices and their users. Consider the strategy for creating mobile content – does it suit the tastes and habits of your mobile consumers? Account for screen sizes for both videos and textual content.
3. Eliminate friction for content consumption on the go
Mobile users generally don’t consume nitty-gritty details. They tend to skim through many content pieces rapidly to ‘get the essence’, which means slow-loading content will be lost.
Eliminate this problem by keeping image file sizes optimised, video lengths short (3-5 minutes) and avoiding Flash altogether.
4. Enable easy navigation between pages
If a mobile user happens to stay on your homepage, you might as well make the best impression. Keep the navigation to case studies and blog pages easy. Make social sharing buttons prominent to help them spread your word.
5. Target the ‘one thumb, one eyeball’ users too
Our attention spans are decreasing. Cater to the multi-taskers who browse content on their phones while listening to music and messaging contacts – all at the same time.
Make content easily readable with large fonts and lots of white space, and short enough for two to three scrolls.
6. Tap into the growing mobile payment frenzy
While you are at it, why not make it easy to convert your mobile users? Display purchase CTAs prominently and upfront.
7. Test, measure and improve
There’s nothing like data to guide you on the right track. Monitor the mobile traffic to your website using tools like Google Analytics. Test often and build on strategies that work.
Google’s algorithm update is a sign of things to come. It’s on you to ensure that your organisation remains discoverable for a rapidly growing mobile user base.
How are you improving your search engine marketing to capitalise on these updates from Google? Share with us in the comments below.