About Sam Hänni
Sam Haenni is a Web Developer who has a passion for Online Marketing (especially anything to do with SEO). He co-founded SwissMadeMarketing and is currently spending most of his time working on SECockpit.
Over the past month you might have seen slogans like “Mobilegeddon is Coming on April 21st” or “This is Bigger Than Panda or Penguin…”
(The SEO community is often guilty of overhyping official statements)
Here’s what’s actually going to happen on April 21st (from Google themselves, emphasis ours):
“Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.”
Mobile search. Only.
Desktop searches, which are still the bulk of search traffic, will not be affected.
So, the first thing you should be asking yourself, or rather looking into your analytics to find out, is - how many people are finding my business through mobile searches?
From there, IF you feel it is a significant amount and deserves some time and money investment, then here are 6 things that you can ACTUALLY do positively affect your “mobile-friendliness” a future mobile search rankings in Google’s eyes:
1. Identify Your Weaknesses on Mobile devices
Luckily, Google has you covered on this one. If you have webmaster tools installed on your site, the new mobile diagnostic will flag all of the things that are unhelpful on small devices.
Alternatively, plug your URL into the Mobile Friendly Test to pinpoint areas that need work.
If you have a lightbox / popup / prompt on your website for email addresses, check what it looks like on mobile. The biggest complaint of mobile users when they get to your site is that they can’t click the tiny “x” to close the popup and get back to what they were reading.
Or worse - if it’s an ad - instead of closing it they accidentally click and are forced to bounce off. Both you and your advertiser have frustrated another person.
If your popup comes up and it’s difficult to close or isn’t useful on mobile, consider a redesign or turning it off for phones completely. Remember - Fat Finger Syndrome is real.
3. Mobile Checkout
If you have an e-commerce site, ask a friend or colleague to go through the checkout process on mobile and identify any frustrations.
If it requires zooming in, scrolling, or small “pilot” buttons then consider implementing a checkout specifically for mobile users that requires only the rudimentary information.
One option could be using Amazon Payments, which allows customers to pay with one click through their Amazon account.
4. Amount of Content
The general rule for smartphones is the more content, the fewer sales. The more pictures and text people have to finger-scroll through to understand your product, the less likely they are to complete the journey to the basket.
On mobile, present the essential information quickly and cleanly to give the customer an enjoyable mobile experience with your business.
5. Responsive vs. Mobile
If you decide to leverage mobile traffic, at some point you will have to pick between building a responsive site or a mobile site. There are pros and cons to both but leaving this decision for “later” isn’t really an option anymore.
Google officially recommends building responsive sites (i.e. the site adapts to the device used) but even a cheap custom mobile site design can make things a lot easier for your customers to buy and will keep you ahead of the game for this update.
The choice is yours...
6. Monitor Your Mobile Search Traffic
If you are still unsure about what you want to do, then keep an eye on your mobile search traffic in the coming weeks through Google Analytics and Webmaster tools.
If the drop isn’t too bad, then it might help you decide on your next move. Either way, get the data first before making a decision.
Find out how many of your users are on mobile devices then decide.
The upcoming update is only affecting mobile search so there is no need to be concerned about your desktop results.
The design community is well-versed in mobile user experience and there is plenty of literature available on make a customer experience enjoyable on a small screen.
Make sure you are testing the full user journey on your site - not just the first few clicks. Take a look at your checkout, lead generation efforts, and navigation to ensure that you don’t dampen your conversions.
What do you think of this update? We look forward to every comment as well as further wishes and ideas.