It’s The End Of The Mobile Search World As We Know It (And We Feel Fine!)

The end is nigh, my friends! The great and mighty Google has spoken, and change is in the wind! Some are calling it “Mobilegeddon;” some have deemed it the “SEO-pocalypse.” A bit overboard? Maybe, but the fact remains that as of April 21st Google is making major changes in the way it scores webpages and ranks them in search results. “Mobile usability” and “mobile-friendliness” are terms you’re going to be hearing more and more often in the coming weeks, as they will become major ranking factors in Google’s scoring process for search.

Mobile Traffic Continues to Grow

If you’ve been keeping your ear to the SEO ground over the past year or so, you’ve become familiar with the ever-growing chorus of voices warning of the coming necessity for all websites to be easily accessible, viewable and functional on mobile devices as well as traditional desktops. As more and more folks interact with the online world through smartphones and tablets, that share of the web-user base has grown to the point where one study estimates that as much as 60% of current online traffic is taking place on mobile devices. Analytic data also shows that when those mobile users land on a page that requires scrolling or pinch-zoom resizing, most opt to leave for greener, more mobile-friendly pastures. If your website doesn’t pass muster, you will lose out on a lot of potential traffic. And after the 21st, that ever-growing mobile-search population may not even find you!

Pages that do not score well in Google’s new mobile metrics will find themselves slipping deeper and deeper into the back pages of mobile search results. As important as page-one placement has always been in desktop search, it is even more vital in mobile search. Statistics show that mobile searchers seldom look beyond the first one or two results, never mind pages.

Defining Mobile Usability

So how can you avoid seeing your website disappear into mobile search purgatory? Helpfully, Google has not been shy about setting forth exactly what they will be lookingfor. There are five specific things they want to see as far as mobile usability:

1. Each page should have a defined viewing area that adjusts to each mobile device’s screen size.

2. Each page’s content should be visible without the user having to scroll horizontally or pinch the screen in order to see the entire page.

3. Fonts should be large and clear enough to be readable on smaller mobile screens.

4. Buttons and other touch elements should be far enough apart to avoid clicking the wrong link.

5. Mobile-friendly technology must be used. (For example, eliminate any Flash-based page elements.)

In addition to these rules of thumb, Googlebot must be allowed to crawl CSS and Javascript resources by the website’s robots.txt file. Even if all of the other five criteria are met, if Googlebot is blocked it will cause the site to fail the mobile usability test.

Time to Prepare

Not sure if your site meets these criteria? Google has provided a free Mobile-Friendliness Test where you can enter your URL and they will tell you whether you pass. If not, they will let you know exactly what you need to fix.

Essentially, there are two ways to bring your website up to speed if it’s not already. You could design a separate parallel mobile site, or – a far better option in Google’s eyes – you could make your current site mobile-responsive. Responsive website design adapts to the device on which the site is accessed, which makes it not only flexible enough for the current crop of potential devices, but also for devices not yet on the market.

Synapse is an industry leader in building websites with responsive design, so our clients and we are ready for this change. If you are not, let us help you prepare. Our team is happy to talk with you about what needs to be done to ensure your website is among those still standing high in the search results of a post-Mobilegeddon world.

Start a conversation with us today!

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