Last February, Google announced that they would add mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. Other ranking signals include quantity of inbound links, social traffic, site loading speed and website architecture. This change to their algorithm is set to go into effect on April 21st, 2015.
To put it simply, Google will now reward websites that are optimized for mobile devices. If you know your website has a mobile responsive design, no need to read any further. If you don’t know what the heck that is, here are five things you should do to find out if this algorithm update is going to impact your organization:
1. Assess your website’s mobile status
You can use Google’s mobile friendly test tool to see how well-optimized your site currently is for mobile. You can also use several features in Google Webmaster Tools, like their mobile usability report and crawl errors report.
2. Find out how much traffic you currently get via mobile
If you have a Google Analytics account, you can easily check to see how much traffic you get from mobile devices. This will give you an indication of how fast you need to move on repairing any issues found via Google’s mobile friendly test tool (but don’t sleep on this too long – just because you don’t have a lot of mobile traffic now doesn’t mean it won’t grow).
3. Know where you rank (and for what keywords) right now to see if you take a hit after the update
Knowing what keywords you wish to rank for is the first step towards developing a content strategy. To quickly assess where you rank for those keywords, open up an incognito window in Google Chrome and simply search for that keyword or phrase.
Also in Google Webmaster Tools, you can filter search queries by mobile only:
Once you know where you rank, and for what, you can see if your rankings decrease after 4/21/15. This will give you an indication of the severity of your website’s mobile issues.
4. See for yourself
Want to know how well your website performs on a mobile device? Check it out on your own! Be sure to check on multiple kinds of smart phones and tablets if you have access to them. While you’re at it, try to make a donation to your own organization via a mobile device. If that isn’t working (well), you might be in trouble.
5. Take action to improve the mobile-friendliness of your website
If you think your website isn’t optimized for mobile devices, you may want to contact your current website vendor. If your website is fairly new, ask them if it is designed to be “mobile responsive.” If they recognize that term right away and say yes, you’re probably fine. If they hesitate or aren’t sure what that phrase means, you might need a new vendor quick.
This post from Search Engine Land has more detailed technical information for your web staffer or vendor.
Mobile responsiveness may be the most important aspect of web design for the foreseeable future! Expect more changes like this one from Google that speak to our increasingly mobile world.