Google’s New Mobile Algorithm Update Promises to be Game-Changer

Google's Mobile Update

Will they call it Porcupine? Or perhaps Platypus? Regardless of the name, Google’s upcoming mobile update will likely shake up the search landscape and ensure that brands and companies work to make mobile experience a top priority. Right on the heels of previous updates Penguin and Panda that affected a large number of English-language websites worldwide, the search giant is promising that this one will have a “significant impact” on mobile search results.

Why the Push for Mobile Optimization?
What is the reason for the forced push to mobile optimization? Since Google’s success as a search engine hinges on users successfully finding the content they are looking for, they have a vested interest in making sure that mobile users (more than half of searchers, and growing) are happy and contented. Which means a fast, intuitive, easy-to-navigate experience from any mobile device.

The mobile-focused algorithm update is officially due to arrive on April 21 and there’s good  reason to pay attention - brands that ignore the upcoming update and continue to provide poor mobile experiences will find themselves quickly falling behind as their sites lose ranking in Google’s mobile search results.

The growing importance of mobile is clear:

  • 50.3% of eCommerce website traffic now comes from a mobile device
  • Nearly half of mobile consumers say they won’t return to a website if it doesn’t load properly
  • 49.5% of email is now opened on a smartphone (searchengineland)
  • Mobile search spend is expected to reach 83% by 2018
  • Total mobile engagement on social has grown 55% in the past year (comScore)
  • More than 2 billion people will make a mobile commerce transaction by the end of 2017 (Jupiter Research)
  • Mobile coupons are redeemed 10x more than print coupons (Source:HubSpot)

What is Mobile Friendly?
What does Google define as “mobile-friendly”? In general, mobile-friendly means that a website is easy to view and navigate on a mobile device like the iPhone. As for specifics, Google has mentioned four distinct criteria:

  • Avoids Flash and other programs that don’t render well on mobile devices
  • Gives site links enough space so that “tapping” with a finger is easy
  • Utilizes layouts that avoid the need to zoom or to scroll horizontally
  • Incorporates text that is easy to read

The Mobile Friendly Test
While there are a number of factors that go into whether a site is considered friendly to mobile users, there are no degrees of being mobile-friendly in the new algorithm’s eyes. A site is either mobile-friendly, or it isn’t. To find out whether your own site passes the test, use Google’s convenient mobile friendly testing tool.

Mobile is Right Now
Mobile isn’t the future any longer - it’s the present. And the current evolution to mobile from desktop is only going to accelerate more every year. Brands must have a comprehensive mobile strategy to compete in the new digital landscape. Google’s new mobile update will ensure that a streamlined mobile experience becomes a top priority for generating success online.

What Your Brand Can Do
Here are some tips for making sure that your site passes the mobile-friendly test - and just as critically, the mobile user satisfaction test:

  • Consider a mobile responsive site. Google prefers this configuration, where the same code is served on the same URL, regardless of device.
  • Pay attention to site speed. Site speed is even more critical for the on-the-go mobile consumer. If your site takes too long to download, you risk losing them to a competitor.
  • Keep it simple. The limited real estate of the mobile device makes extraneous information or design into a distraction.
  • Test, test, test. Frequently test how your site is rendering on a variety of devices to avoid issues that could be roadblocks for your mobile customers.
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