Fix Mobile Usability Issues – How To Prepare For Google's Next Algorithm Update
What’s so special about April 21st?
The anniversary of the Tienanmen Square protests?
Iggy Pop’s Birthday?
Kenyan National Tree Planting day? (Thanks for that last one Wikipedia)
All special, indubitably. But not the right answer if you're a marketing exec, web developer or SEO.
April 21st is the planned date for Google’s next mobile based algorithm update (dubbed #MobileMadness) and it promises to be a biggie.
If you've got Google Webmaster tools set up for your website, there’s a good chance you've seen a few emails recently that look like the one below.
If you immediately threw this in your junk, fish it out and actually look at it!
I mentioned in my last blog that an update like this was round the corner and according to Google the end is nigh…
"Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices." (Feb 26th 2015, Official Google Webmaster Central Blog)
Consequently if your site is poorly optimised for mobile use, YOU WILL feel the cold merciless wrath of Google’s mighty mobile rank hammer come April 21st.
In layman’s, your site will start to see decreased visibility in mobile search results as Google starts to return more mobile friendly sites in SERPs in the place of yours.
It’s rare for Google to be so forthcoming about algorithm updates this big. Panda and Penguin weren't really signposted at all and they didn't affect nearly as many sites as this one will.
Kind of shows how serious this update will be…
Google will be rolling the update out, worldwide, over the course of a week starting on the 21st. There will be no grey area when Google applies its shiny new algorithm to your site. It’s either mobile friendly or it’s not. If you think your site is in the grey area check it.
Is reading this making you start to squirm?
In the immortal words of Douglas Adams “Always know where your towel is” “DON’T PANIC!”
It's late, but you've got a little time to fix things.
If you’re using WordPress or another theme reliant CMS - you can probably check to see if your theme has a newer/mobile friendly version to which you can apply an update. This is your best bet for avoiding any major headaches and will take next to no time for you or your web dev to implement.
Failing that, buy a new responsive theme. We like Themeforest for off the shelf, responsive themes.
If your site is already responsive/optimised for mobile, just check it meets Google's definition of ‘mobile friendly’.
Slap your URL into Google’s Mobile Friendly Tester thingamajig.
My site’s not mobile friendly, what should I do to fix it?
Here are some common issues that are often overlooked/poorly optimised for some ‘non friendly’ sites, click the link to see how to fix them or at the very least show it to your web dev.
- Touch elements being too close together – Re-size your tap targets
- Small font sizes – Use a legible font size
- Screen size constraints – Configure your viewport
Get these issues fixed and you should be in the clear
We can’t stress how important this update is. If you want to continue to receive traffic from Google when the user is on a mobile device, you need to get your act together now.
Maybe your web developer says it's nothing to worry about. Maybe your SEO company didn't mention it. In which case, bin them both and holler at us. Noisy Little Monkey will make it all better and give you an ongoing digital marketing strategy to boot.
If you can fix your usability issues before the 21st you’ll probably be rewarded with better mobile search rankings, if you don’t? You've have been warned…