What Google’s second mobile-friendly roll-out means for your website

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Anyone who uses the internet already knows how fast it’s changing. Not only are the underlying technologies changing but so too is the behaviour of its users. Google have suggested that as much as 94 percent of American local search queries are now from smartphones. That’s an astounding figure but probably not surprising given that almost everyone has an internet-capable device on them. This trend towards mobile internet consumption brings with it many new considerations and if you host or maintain a website you need to be aware of them.

Let’s take a look at what it’s all about.

Why is this so important?

Up until now, the majority of websites have been designed for viewing from traditional devices like desktop computers and laptops. More often than not, this has meant a less-than-satisfying experience for visitors on smartphones and tablets. In fact, having to constantly resize content so it’s readable and clickable means visitors are actually more likely to abandon your site than constantly resize your content to view it.

As someone offering products and services online, you need to ensure your visitors can find their way around your online content quickly and efficiently. If you rely on income generated from your website this is of even greater importance.

What does it involve?

How much effort is involved will depend on how your current content has been implemented. In some cases, you’ll be able to reuse your existing content by making structural modifications to the underlying page code. If you use a CMS (Content Management System) most of the hard work has probably already been done for you.

In other cases, a complete rewrite using new html5 technologies will be the best solution. These technologies allow for faster deployment because they were designed from the ground up to include mobile strategies.

In rare cases, you might even choose to offer multiple versions of your content to cover a larger variety of screen sizes.

So how do you go about doing it?

Most people will probably want to start by doing some background reading about the initiative. As part of their initiative, Google have provided a very good online resource to start with. If you use a CMS like WordPress you can start here: CMS for mobile.

Let’s get started!

Probably, the most interesting way to get started is to dive in at the deep-end. Google have provided a free tool for you to check your existing content with. Just paste the address for your content into the tool and let their tool crawl your site and generate a report. The feedback it gives is very useful because it offers links to particular problems that the tool has encountered. You might even find that you are already mobile-friendly and that very little needs to be done. Google’s mobile-friendly test can be found here.

What if I choose not to update my content?

Aside from distancing yourself from your audience you may notice a drop in your page rankings. Google has made it very clear that their search engine algorithms will reward mobile-friendly sites with higher placement in mobile searches. If anything, search engine optimisation (SEO) is actually going to be more important now because it is yet another item to get right when you develop online content.

Perhaps a better question is “Can you afford not to update your content?”

Luke Chaffey is a Digital Marketing Specialist with KBB Digital. For advice on Digital Marketing, including SEO services and Digital Strategy, visit www.kbbdigital.com.au

Luke Chaffey
Luke Chaffey is a senior member of the KBB Digital team, and heads up the search marketing division. With a keen eye on innovation and developing digital trends, Luke regularly attends the Google Partners Masterclass, and is also a prolific writer for websites such as Yahoo, The Australian Government (Digital Business sector), Kochie’s Business Builders, Smarter.Digital, KBB Digital.