On April 21st, Google will be doing a major update on how they index websites, in layman’s terms “Mobileggedon-Pocalypse” (the end of terrible websites) . Google is always tinkering and they have spoken, make your website mobile friendly or else. Over the last five years, the explosion in the availability of smart phones has allowed more and more people to access the web and Google wants to make sure that they are helping to make the internet a better experience by showing websites that most closely match your search. Google has outlined some factors to make sure your website is mobile ready and will ensure that your website gets a high ¨Google Score¨.
One of the most significant steps outlined by Google is a website needs to be a responsive website. What is a responsive website design? According to Google, a responsive web design is an approach to web design aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing experience—easy reading and navigation with minimal resizing, panning, and scrolling—across a wide range of devices (from desktop computer monitors to mobile phones). It is important to have a responsive web design so that users that visit your website have an overall good experience which leads to longer engagement and/or conversions. I have heard that some small businesses that do not have responsive websites are receiving notices from Google stating that they need to change their design or Google will not index their website. I am not sure if they are notifying websites through Webmaster Tools, I am still waiting to see the email a colleague of mine received.
Along with a responsive design, Google has emphasized mobile friendly websites. That means that your website, when accessed by a mobile device, is easy to navigate and responsive. With mobile searches constantly increasing, it is important for your website to not only be compatible on different browsers, but also optimized for all devices. If you are a small business, you need to make sure your website is available to everyone on different browsers and devices to engage your clients which hopefully will lead to conversions. If you want to test your website to make sure it is mobile friendly, Google has a link for a Mobile Friendly Test so you can see how your website looks on a mobile device and if it is mobile friendly according to Google. When you enter the link, it gives you positive or negative feedback and also shows you how Googlebot views your website.
Another criteria that will be evaluated on websites will be the elimination of Flash and other media that does not work on mobile devices. The movement to have Flash eliminated started a couple of years ago when iPads did not allow Flash through the Safari browser and now it looks as though Google is trying to eliminate it once and for all. I know that some Flash animation is impressive but most of them are not done well, are clunky, and take too long to load causing delays in web page loading. Now that Google is focusing more on the mobile web experience, it is just a matter of time until Flash will be completely eliminated. In my experience, when I visit a website and it begins to load the Flash, I usually hit the back button and go to another website that has faster load time and does not contain Flash.
The last major criteria that Google will use is page load time, which has been an important criteria for Google ranking but now it will include mobile and desktop page load times, with emphasis on mobile page load time. With the elimination of Flash, concentration of better content, and quicker page load times, users will encounter better websites and will have a better internet experience. Everyone has had the experience of slow loading websites but in the foreseeable future, when someone does a Google search, the top websites shown will have fast page load times. Google has provided a link to their Google Page Speed Analyzer that will analyze your website and let you know your score according to Google along with ways to fix errors to increase your Google score.
If you have designed your website in the last two years with the guidance of a website/SEO professional, you should not have to do any changes. When consulting websites for clients, we have emphasized that their websites should have good content, no Flash, fast load times, and be mobile friendly. Hopefully you have been preparing for Mobileggedon-Pocalypse and if you need help with your website, contact us..