Design | 05.14.2015

How to Survive the Google Mobilegeddon Update

The number of users who rely on smartphones when browsing for websites and information online has grown dramatically in the last five years.  Google has taken note of this shift in how users access online data, working to refine mobile search results across the board.

The latest Google Mobilegeddon update, delivered in April 2015, was designed to increase search engine credibility and exposure for sites that provide a positive mobile search experience.  Seen by many experts as the end to websites that never switched to a responsive design and those that never had a mobile version, this latest update from Google will definitely have a long term impact on many sites.

How is your web traffic going to stand up to Mobilegeddon once the initial results are analyzed?  If you don’t take steps to ensure your site is optimized for the mobile user experience, then you might find yourself lost in a sea of search results.

How Does the New Algorithm Work?  

Google’s latest update isn’t just about bringing increased visibility to mobile-friendly websites, it’s also about providing a better user experience for all users.  According to Google’s guidelines about who qualifies for the “mobile friendly” tag in indexed search results, websites now need to have the following characteristics (as noted in the Google Webmaster Central Blog):

  • Avoids the use of software and applications that aren’t commonly used on mobile devices (such as Flash)
  • Has text that is easy to read without zooming in
  • Easy access to links with enough size in between them for easy tapping
  • Content and images are sized for smaller screens so that users don’t need to scroll or zoom to see the entire page

When you think about your own user experience with mobile search,  consider the different websites you visit on a regular basis and how they look on your smartphone or tablet versus on a laptop or pc.  There are likely some sites that deliver a completely seamless experience however they are viewed, and others that lack basic mobile optimization.

Testing Your Mobile Functionality

If you haven’t taken steps to address your mobile users, now is the time to start taking action.  Surviving Mobilegeddon is all about implementing improved design elements, such as properly sized images, expertly written content and mobile-friendly buttons and forms.  Try accessing your website on a few different mobile devices and compare the experience when viewing the same site on regular desktop or laptop. Make sure you try out all the buttons, click the links and read through all of the content to get the full user experience.  Once you’ve tested out the functionality of your site, see if the design passes inspection by submitting your site’s URL to Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.  If all of your site features and content are easily accessible by Googlebot, then you’ll receive a notification that your site is mobile-friendly.  If not, then Google will point out what’s missing from the mobile user experience for your site and will offer suggestions for how to improve it.

What Makes Google Happy?

There are two main ways that you can bring your website up to date for Google’s mobile-friendly algorithm:  Implement a responsive web design or create and maintain a separate mobile-only version of your site.  While having a mobile version of your site does increase site functionality and allows it to be indexed as mobile-friendly, it’s a practice that has been falling out of favor with web designers in recent years.  Having to maintain two different versions of your website and dealing with indexing issues due to multiple redirects can become a big hassle as your site grows and adds new features.  Responsive web design is a much more efficient option for delivering a completely seamless user experience.  A responsive website utilizes the same HTML/CSS regardless of how it’s being viewed. You only have to update a single instance of your site, and Google will give you more weight in the search results than sites that aren’t optimized for mobile users.

A good responsive web design includes clean details, easy to read fonts, simple calls to action and contact forms that are easy to fill out and submit.  Optimizing images by reducing size and using iframes to embed videos will help reduce load times for all users.  Including helpful, professionally written content in your site design will also increase your Google search visibility.  Consider adding a blog with a regular publishing schedule, as this can be a great way to attract new visitors while also getting Google’s attention.  Staying up to date with your site’s design and content, and ensuring that all users have the same positive experience is the best way to survive Mobilegeddon.

Jordan Crown is a website design agency specializing in WordPress and responsive design. Click here to view their services.