Google Update is Coming April 21: Is Your Site Mobile Ready?

April 4, 2015

4:00 pm

Google will be launching an update to its mobile search algorithm on April 21st. The search engine giant has warned that sites that do not follow the mobile ready guidelines by Google will be affected by this update. This update will affect only the mobile search queries and not the desktop search queries. This is a big move by Google considering the growing base of mobile users.

The Mobile Market is Huge

According to recent data compiled and released by Mobile Marketing Association of Asia that covered a wide cross-section of users comprising over 7 billion, over 4 billion of these subjects do not own even a toothbrush! However, surprisingly, over 5 billion are proud owners of cell phones. Studies conducted by Morgan Stanley state that out of over 5 billion cell phone users more than 90% keep their phones right beside themselves, almost all the time.

While a stolen or missing wallet is reported to the authorities only after 24 hours in most cases, a lost mobile is reported within the hour in almost all cases. Such is the addiction to mobile phones.

Why Mobile Marketing Matters

As the mobile phone is carried on person by most people, they are used in 3 out of 5 searches for any product or service online. Over three-fourths of Smartphone owners are dependent on their phones for getting directions, or any location-specific information. Mobile Marketer says that not all mobile searches are casual or just out of curiosity: over 70% of these searches always end up in concrete action leading to fruitful purchases within the hour.

Almost 61% of these searches almost invariably end up with phone calls enquiring about the product or service. When it comes to coupons, mobile coupons are redeemed with an alacrity that is often absent in conventional searches. By the end of last year, almost half of the reported internet traffic was attributed to mobile phones, such is the impact. The world over, people seem to prefer using their mobiles for secure banking transactions, any sort of local information, travel related searches, a wide range of shopping, sports updates, and reading through any interesting blogs. More people access Facebook and Twitter from their mobile phones than the conventional desktops or laptops. Mobile apps for music are more popular with today’s trendy crowd, who also look up maps or the latest games on their mobile phones.

How to Make Your Site Mobile Ready and Boost Mobile SEO

As per Tommy Griffith of Clickminded SEO, “Mobile SEO is all the more important today as mobile search activities cater to specific needs of users who are a busy lot, and are always on the go.” The mobile platform characteristics should include different formats, matching speed and technology. Mobile users browsing sites are a totally different lot and tend to lap up content in a different manner using their mobiles, for which they need websites that are mobile-ready. With the unprecedented growth in mobile users, even Google has come up with specific search bots for Smartphones in order to give a better search experience. Google has been thoughtful enough to launch a guide to create mobile optimized websites and is even willing to help you create a mobile site so that you benefit from the influx of mobile users.

A recent survey indicates that one out of five cell phone users in America use their phones while going online. They take quick glances amid other tasks they attend to (multitasking), and are constrained to view content, including images on a very small screen.

Here are the top four things to review in determining your site’s mobile scorecard.

1. Speed

There are several factors that need to be considered while designing a mobile-friendly website. There are several tools that you can use for this purpose in order to achieve the desired optimization levels. A very important factor you need to take into consideration is the time your page takes to load. If it is going to be painfully slow, you run the risk of losing customers. When compared to desktop sites, mobile versions of these sites are at a disadvantage. With mobile sites you need to contend with slower network connections, a browser cache memory that is comparatively smaller, JavaScript can parse very slowly, as will HTML as well. As early as 2012, Google developed an online tool for testing the mobile page speed. It gives you the speed score of your website along with suggestions on how you can improve the load time.

2. Cache

Mobile caches have a limitation, and cannot hold as much content as a desktop browser can. The slow page loading can be attributed to the mobile site’s browser caching. There is a solution for the problem now, thanks to HTML5 Web Storage Application, which most mobile browsers use. With the Chrome cache, on the other hand, the cache size is dependent on the amount of disk space at its disposal, because it is dynamic. Some mobile browsers are capable of using local memory for caching resources, thus doing away with the need for any server requests.

Storing your mobile site’s resources externally or even linking them can be avoided when the site is not cached on mobile browsers. These can be embedded on the site’s HTML itself, though this could lead to an increased page size. This could directly affect the speed of your site, which is not desirable. To negate this, you’ll have to use any web application that lets you embed resources in the HTML itself. Try Mobile Optimizer, which is an application meant to do exactly this. Another way to speed up the loading of mobile web pages is to use mobile browsers. Here are some sites like Twitter Bootstrap, HTML5BoilerPlate, 52Framework, 320andup, and LessFramework, which are good for documentation and downloading for CSS3 and HTML5 framework.

3. Images

It is not advisable to include images on a mobile website as the screen space crunch is a major disadvantage. Go for a simple layout that is free of images, in case there is a need to include images, opt for increased bandwidth space as well as processing time. Try using tools like JPEG & PNG Stripper, Smush.it, Online Image Optimizer, and SuperGIF to optimize images on your mobile site.  It would also be a great idea to avoid using click buttons on your mobile site, as there is a painful wait after the users click. Instead use touch events that are a lot faster.

4. Test

It is a great idea to test your new site to find out if it qualifies for the new mobile-friendly labels from Google, or if the site is geared for a mobile-friendly ranking boost that your site can do with. Check out the new tool from Google that is sure to be a great help. You’ll find the new tool at Mobile-Friendly Test, which will tell you whether you passed or failed the grade.  You need to check your site to see whether it works find on mobile devices or not. It is quite simple really, either you qualify as a mobile friendly site, or you don’t. You’ll be happy if you receive messages like “Awesome! This page is mobile-friendly”, or conversely, “Not Mobile-friendly”. It depends on the site whether Google goes a step further and gives any advice. Some sites that are not so mobile friendly may get messages like “text too small to read” or “mobile viewport not set”, or “links too close together”, which are all self explanatory.

So, isn’t your site mobile ready yet? With the world going mobile these days, it’s time you act fast. The handheld devices are fast overtaking their big brothers and very soon, they could be the only business platforms. Hope the above ideas help you covert your website into a mobile ready one.

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Internet marketer, social media junkie and tech enthusiast. I have been promoting sites since 2009. I love to blog and maintain my personal blog seosandwitch.com where I share latest news and articles related to seo, social media and internet marketing.

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