The countdown is on! Google will change its algorithm on April 21st by adding mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor. Are you ready?

mobile friendly websites will perform better in google search

Google Search Now Shows If Your Website Is Mobile Friendly

Fri Mar 13, 2015

On Thursday, February 26, Google officially announced that beginning on April 21 it would be adding “mobile-friendliness” as an official Worldwide ranking signal. Those of us in the Digital Marketing world have been expecting this mobile-friendly announcement for some time, and started to plan for this ranking signal long ago. But, Google was sure to throw a curveball our way during their announcement as well, in that it would immediately begin to allow information from indexed mobile apps to influence search results for those users that are signed in on their smart phones when searching. 

For many reading this blog post, you’ve also begun to plan for the ever-increasing importance of the mobile optimization of your website. But if you’ve been guilty of “putting it off,” or haven’t been able to justify the budget or the time to prepare for this new ranking signal, or to optimize your mobile apps, read on to learn what you can do now in anticipation of the April mobile-friendly algorithm roll-out that Google says, "will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results.”

Responsive Web Design

Responsive web design is Google’s recommended design pattern, so if you are serious about providing your users with both a strong mobile and desktop experience, you should consider going this route. Responsive design dynamically displays the correct rendering of your website to the browser size that a particular mobile device uses. A bonus of choosing to use responsible design is that any SEO work that you put into your desktop website will be just as valid and effective on mobile sites, as the HTML code and URL of your site stays the same, regardless of the display size and style of your design. Note: the Percussion CMS comes with pre-built templates that are responsive. 

Tell Search Engines You’re Mobile-Friendly…

…with the meta viewport tag: 

<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0”>  

Although Google’s crawlers should be able to automatically tell that your website is responsive if you tell them within your robots.txt to crawl all of your pages and assets, adding the viewport tag can act as a fail-safe in the case that Google fails to assess your mobile-friendliness correctly. Without the meta viewport tag, browsers may automatically default to show the desktop version of your responsive website since they’ve been left without instruction as to how to adjust the dimensions and scaling of your pages to the width of your mobile device. This lack of instruction can cause browsers to pick and choose whether or not font size is increased, and how your content is served to the visitor.

Optimize Your Apps

With so many apps in the app store, implementing “ASO” or App Store Optimization, can help your app reach your target download prospects more effectively. Many of the same principles involved in SEO are also applicable to ASO, but as apps are without pages, URLs and meta information, there are far fewer areas where keywords should be mentioned while optimizing. After choosing your target keywords based on your research, your knowledge of your key prospects, and your market, those keywords should be used in your app’s title, description and keywords fields. Also important for ASO are total number of downloads and reviews and ratings, so be sure that if you are launching a new app, that you have a plan to "get the word out" through your marketing initiatives. 

If you are unsure whether or not your website is “mobile-friendly,” you’re in luck! You can easily check for common mobile usability issues by using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool and you can also see these issues within your Google Webmaster Tools accounts by clicking the “Mobile Usability” option within the “Search Traffic” section of your internal left side Webmaster Tools navigation. 

 

Alicia Hale eMagine
Alicia Hale
VP of Digital Marketing Services | eMagine

Alicia oversees the overarching SEO, PPC, CRO, and Social Media strategies and services offered by eMagine. She manages and mentors a dynamic team of Digital Marketing Strategists, all of whom are dedicated to utilizing strong relationships with their clients to achieve unique Digital Marketing goals. Over the last decade, Alicia has built her Digital Marketing expertise with some of the fastest growing start-ups and largest companies in the insurance, manufacturing, marine, technology, education, and non-profit sectors. With both B2B and B2C experience, she has a keen awareness of challenges and opportunities unique to both markets. She is most passionate about building strategic, actionable, and multi-dimensional Digital Marketing plans, Online Brand Creation and Management, and Digital Marketing training and education.