Prepare your business website for the new Google mobile update

Google's Mobile Friendly Update is coming

Attention all business owners in Exmouth and Coral Bay … your website needs to be mobile friendly by April 21!

This might sound pretty dramatic, however, according to this Google Webmaster blog post from earlier this year, your website really needs to be mobile friendly, otherwise search results may be affected, specifically results returned when searching on mobile devices themselves. With more an more people searching for goods and services on mobile devices, this update really can’t be ignored.

To summarise:

  • Google will release an update on the 21st April specifically affecting websites that are deemed not mobile friendly.
  • This will probably have an effect on where your website is positioned in search results for the searched keywords.
  • This may result in less people visiting your website if your site is not mobile friendly.
  • This in turn will more than likely affect your business … how much is not known.
  • Keep calm … I can help!

I’ve tried to condense this information in the post below however it’s still pretty lengthy, so if you’d like to skip to the end, feel free.

What is a mobile friendly website?

In the simplest terms, a mobile friendly website is a site that can be viewed, and more importantly comfortably used, on a range of mobile devices, be they mobile phones, tablets, notebooks, or any other small form factor internet enabled gadget.

Mandalay Resort, Busselton mobile friendly website

The website for Mandalay Resort adjusts the display to fit the mobile device screen

Your website text should be easily readable, buttons and links should be large enough to be tapped with a finger and images should display in their entirety without side scrolling. The best result will be that your website should automatically adjust every element on the page to fit within the smaller screen size on mobile devices. This ability has been labeled “responsive” as the web page literally responds differently depending on the size or type of the screen it is being viewed on.

How do I tell if my website is mobile friendly?

Well for starters, you can browse your site on your mobile phone! If you can comfortably use the site and read everything then your site may already be mobile friendly.

However, it may just as easily be only optimised for your mobile device, and not ALL mobile devices! This distinction is pretty important as there are many, many different mobile devices, with more appearing all the time. Ideally your web developer has made your site from the ground up to be responsive so it just works similarly on any mobile device it is used on. For the record, I make sure EVERY website I develop is fully responsive and mobile friendly 🙂

You can also do a basic responsive test by going to your website in your browser on your computer, and then manually resizing the browser window to a smaller size and see what happens to the content on the page. If you need to scroll sideways to see some content then chances are you don’t have a responsive site.

As far as Google is concerned, and really it’s Google your site needs to satisfy in this particular update on the 21st April, you can go to their mobile friendly test page, put in your website address or even better, check every page of your site, and see if it passes.

To give you an example, (please note I chose this business at random as it was in my recent memory from this morning), have a look at the test report for the Potshot website, specifically the accommodation page. This page does not pass the mobile friendly tests from Google, and the reason is “content wider than screen”. Having a look on my iPhone 5 does indeed show that most of the content of the page does not fit to the screen, effectively rendering this site hard to use. Contrast this with the Mandalay Resort accommodation page which shows all content within the mobile screen, the user only needs to scroll down. Everything is readable and clickable and provides the user with a good experience. I’ve used Mandalay as a responsive example as this is a site I’ve developed so I know it intimately.

What if my site doesn’t pass the mobile friendly test?

All is not lost!

It may be that only certain elements on the page are not great for mobile and are enough to cause your site to fail the test. In this case you’ll need your web developer to fix these elements in order for all tests to pass. This may only take days to resolve and not cost too much.

On the other hand there may be larger structural issues that prevent your site from being mobile friendly. In this instance it is probably faster and more cost effective to rebuild the site from scratch so it is responsive. Generally this is not something that should be rushed, however as time is counting down toward the April 21st deadline from Google, it may be better to use a basic template that makes the site responsive but does not look how you’d like, and then work toward visually changing the design as time permits after the Google deadline.

If you have a website already in development then please ask your developer whether the new site will be responsive … in 2015 I’d expect it to be!

My website isn’t mobile friendly so what will happen on April 21st?

Short answer? Not sure what will happen exactly … Google aren’t in the habit of telling everyone what their updates will do as such.

However … most usability/SEO/Google/web developer types are expecting Google’s update to affect the search engine results pages by placing sites that ARE mobile friendly above sites that ARE NOT mobile friendly for a given search term, especially if the device being used is a mobile device and not a desktop computer.

Basically sites that ARE mobile friendly (as determined by Google) will have that factored into their page ranking in some positive way. Just how much of a factor is anyones guess so we really will need to wait until their update goes live. However the general consensus is there will be some sort of penalty for those sites that ARE NOT mobile friendly.

This might mean that for example, your site currently shows up in 3rd position for a certain key phrase. You may even be getting good traffic to your site from this position (and hopefully conversions as well). If your site is not mobile friendly, but many of your competitors’ sites ARE, it may come to pass that after the update your site position for the same key phrase, drops down to position 10, or worse still, off the first page completely.

For some businesses this may not impact their bottom line one bit, however for most I’d hazard a guess you WILL see some impact, directly or not. It may be that the phone just doesn’t ring as much as it did at a similar time last year. It may be that you don’t get as many direct emails from your website as you once did. This will really depend on the type of business you are in, how your website has traditionally performed pre-update or any number of other factors. It may even be passed off as just a slowdown in the economy, or how recent weather has affected the region. You won’t really know without the analytic data available, before and after the update.

Given we know through past experience, most Google updates generally DO have a marked effect on website rankings. As we are being warned about this one in advance, there is a better than fair chance this will drastically affect your website position.

Help is at hand

If this is all a bit too much to take in, confuses the hell out of you, or really just needs to be sorted out in the best way possible, help is at hand in Exmouth.

Please give me (Scott) a call on 0418 746 123 … I can help!

  •  I can check your site for mobile friendliness, responsiveness and all manner of other issues.
  • I’ll be able to see if this update will even affect your site
  • I can teach you about search engine optimisation and offer tips to improve your site
  • I can even rebuild your site if you need a new one.

Call me for ANYTHING web related, even if you want something explained in more detail. I’m more than happy to help any Exmouth and Coral Bay businesses!