On April 21, 2015, Google released a significantly more mobile-friendly search algorithm. The build up to the announcement and the implementation of the algorithm was so seismic that many programmers and companies have been referring to it as “Mobilegeddon” or other such apocalyptic names. In short, the update changes how the Google search engine evaluates and organizes mobile-friendly versus non-mobile-friendly sites. Google now favors sites that are mobile friendly or “reactive” in terms of search rankings from mobile devices. Furthermore, Google will tag your site as mobile- friendly or non-mobile friendly and use the labels for search results.
Google’s motives behind the change were simple. There are an increasing number of people (roughly 40-60%) using mobile devices to access the web. Often times, these people are opening non- mobile websites only to be met with small fonts and links that are difficult to navigate on a smaller screen. Google seeks to give users easier access to relevant, high-quality search results that are optimized for their devices. Google also states that as more people access the web through mobile devices, they need to adapt their services to accommodate these users.
The results of the update were not nearly as severe as many expected. However, there are some things that you can do to ensure your website is fully optimized.
Here are three simple ways to comply with the new Google mobile algorithms:
1. Simplify or ‘mobilize’
- Use fonts that fit the size of the screen. This means smaller amounts of white space so users won’t have to zoom in on their device in order to read the text.
- Use less links on each page so they can be spaced apart. This makes it easier for mobile users to click on links from their smaller screens.
- Minimize software such as Flash that is incompatible with mobile devices.
2. Simplify or ‘mobilize’Viewpoint Configuration
- If a website has been designed with only PC users in mind, then pictures, text, links, and other such features take longer to load on a mobile device.
- Horizontal scrolling is occasionally necessary to see words and images on the page. However, the larger page can become a nuisance for mobile device users. This happens when pages use absolute values in CSS declarations, or use images designed to look best at a specific browser width (such as 980px). To fix this error, make sure the pages use relative width and position values for CSS elements, and make sure images can scale as well.
- Some web developers define the viewport to a fixed pixel size in order to adjust a non-responsive page to suit common mobile screen sizes. To fix this error, adopt a responsive design for your site’s pages, and set the viewport to match the device’s width and scale accordingly.
- Visitors to your site use a variation of screen sizes—from large desktop monitors, to tablets and small smartphones. Your pages should specify a viewport using the Meta viewport tag. This tag tells browsers how to adjust the page’s dimensions and scaling to suit the device.
3. Google is here to help
- Some have said that Google’s new mobile-friendly algorithm puts some companies at a disadvantage. The reality is that Google wants the best user experience regardless of the device being used. Google has provided several resources on how to prepare for this change. “Googling” these will give you a leg up on the competition.
- Google provides free online tests to conduct to help you determine how mobile-friendly your site is right now. The test results show strengths and weaknesses so you can focus your efforts on improvements.
- For years, Google has been pushing websites to become mobile-friendly because more searches now originate from mobile devices than from PCs. Becoming mobile-friendly is not to appease Google, but rather to help potential customers find you and your business.