Is Your Site Ready for the Mobile Revolution?

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Because if you don’t have a mobile version of your site you will likely see your rankings in Google begin to drop sometime around the end of April.

But why you may ask?

Because Google is placing a heavy emphasis on sites that have a mobile flavor – in other words, sites that display easily whether viewed on desktop, tablet, smartphone, or smartTV.

Why April?

Well this is a bit of a harder one to quantify.  You see Google has come out already to say that beginning in April they will start to rank sites without a mobile presence differently.  Some might argue this could just mean something simple like they are already doing –that is identifying those sites that have a mobile presence during mobile searches.

But I think it’s going to go much further than that.  I think those sites lacking any sort of mobile presence could be penalized by Google.

Penalized for no mobile site you say? Why on earth would Google do that?  Surely most of the web is not mobile friendly.  While this may or may not be true, the fact is mobile search is growing at an ever increasing rate.  Some estimates now place mobile search at between 40 and 60% of all searches performed!

So it only makes sense that if half of all searches performed on Google are mobile, then those sites that AREN’T mobile shouldn’t get any sort of preferential treatment, not matter how useful or worthy they may think they are.

If you read the article linked to above, you will also notice that an employee of Google said the mobile algorithms “launch on April 21st will have more of an impact on Google’s search results than the Google Panda update and the Google Penguin update did.”

Now think about that for a second.  Both Panda and Penguin were MAJOR shakeups in Google.  Combined, these algorithms affected more than 15% of all search queries performed on Google daily.

So let’s crunch some numbers.  Let’s say that only ½ of the sites on the web today do indeed have a mobile presence.   That means 50% do not.

If we assume that about ½ the searches performed on Google are done on mobile devices, and Google is going to give preference to sites with a mobile presence, then that means ½ of all sites currently displayed on Google search results will be penalized, if not removed altogether, because they don’t have a mobile presence.  In real terms that is about a 25% impact on all Google search queries on a daily basis.

Imagine that – ¼ of all Google search queries affected by a single algorithmic update.

But at least we are ready for it right?  We know it’s coming on April 21 and we’ve done what we can to make sure we survive this storm right?

What? You aren’t sure?

Well, let me tell you how to find out.  First, take the Google Mobility test:

https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/

To find out if your site is mobile friendly.  If it is, great!  But if it is not you need to get on that and fast.

Google has already come out to say it prefers responsive site design and truthfully this is probably your best option.  That is because you can usually get away with 1 style sheet for your site, and have it control the various screen orientations.  Otherwise you are looking at designing multiple versions of mobile sites for the various mobile sites out there.

Even if you already have a mobile site your job isn’t done.  Your next step is to log into Google Webmaster Tools  and select the “Page Speed Insights” found in the “Other Resources” area.

Run this check on your site, whether it’s mobile enabled or not, to see what else you can, and should, fix.

Pay careful attention to what the output tells you.  It will likely give you a score on how well your site performs in a mobile environment.  Don’t focus so much on the score you get but what Google suggests you fix.

For example, for this site we had a bunch of minor fixes that helped move our score up from the mid-30’s. Things like moving the JavaScript files to the footer, optimizing delivery of CSS, Optimizing images, and Leverage browser caching.  We are still in the high 50’s and do have a few things to fix but are really close to that “safe range”

Even though this site is responsive, there was still quite a few fixes we could do to optimize it’s delivery.

In doing so I expect we will see a significant increase in traffic and rankings post-April 21 because many of our competitors either are not mobile friendly, or have not optimized their sites for delivery on mobile devices.

So, in summary, if you don’t have a mobile presence now is the time to do it.

And if you do have a mobile version of your site your work may not be done yet.  Use the page speed tools from Google, Yahoo and others to find out ways to optimize your site’s code to help it load more quickly.

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