The clock is ticking. The next Google update is only days away. Have you got ready for the mobile-friendliness ranking update yet? If you have not yet done so, here are a few quick tips to save your day.
Google has already announced that the mobile-friendly ranking algorithm would have a “significant impact” on mobile search results. In fact, this upcoming update might have a larger impact than the infamous Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird updates. However, the best thing about this update is that after a long time, Google gave ample time for webmasters to prepare for the update by announcing the dates almost two months in advance. This update is also the easiest to fix if you follow the tips provided below.
1) The first thing you must do is to check how your website fares in Google’s mobile-friendliness test. Mobile responsiveness is not merely decided by whether you have used a responsive theme or not. The main factors on which Google seems to be analyzing mobile-friendliness are:
a) Whether the text appears clear and legible on a mobile screen,
b) Whether the links are well-separated from one another, and
c) If viewport tag is set in your website or not.
Google has also provided a mobile-friendly test link which you can access here. If your website passes the test, you can stop pulling your hair. Your website developer might have already implemented complete or partial responsive design layout when building the website which you might not have noticed. I have tested many websites and noticed that websites do not need to be have a perfectly responsive design to pass Google’s mobile-friendly test. Many partially responsive websites without viewport tag also seem to pass the test if the the links and text on the website are large and distinct enough. If your website is not fully responsive but still passes the test, it is always a good idea to try to make it perfectly responsive so that visitors to your website from mobile devices love it and find it easy to navigate. The number of internet users on mobile devices has increased rapidly in the last couple of years and has already overtaken the number of PC users in many countries. So, it is extremely important to provide your mobile visitors a mobile-friendly website in order to increase your site visibility and visitor loyalty.
2) If you do not use Google Webmaster tools, I would advise you to add your website to it immediately. Webmaster tools give you a broad idea about your website including the keywords for which your website ranks in Google search, the name and number of referring domains and external links and in-depth analysis of your website on various factors. If your website is penalized or there are downtime or other problems, you also receive messages about the same and how to rectify it. There is a link in Webmaster Tools to check mobile visibility too and you can check the same to check the mobile visibility errors and relevant details.
3) If you use any regular CMS or script like Joomla, WordPress, Magneto, Vbulletin etc., Google has made it quite easy by creating a mobile guide for websites. You can find it here and can implement the recommendations as per your script or CMS. If you are using any script or software not mentioned there, try to check if a recent version of your script has been released to cater to responsive design needs. You can also check themeforest and the chances are that you would be able to find a responsive theme or template of your choice there.
The quick fix way to make your WordPress website mobile friendly is to active the mobile theme in Jetpack plugin. Jetpack has got a responsive theme which you can activate in the Jetpack settings inside your WordPress dashboard. Scroll down to “Mobile Theme” in Jetpack settings and activate it. That is all that needs to be done. The theme looks decent but there is not much option to customize it or change colors.
5) After you fix the mobile-responsiveness of the site either by customizing your theme to make it mobile-friendly or by using a new responsive theme, make sure to check your website in the mobile-friendly test link once again. Most of the recent documentations by Google point out that passing their mobile-friendly test is enough for avoiding the penalty as of now. Once your website passes through the test, you are done and can back to work on building great content or promoting your website once again.
Hope these tips have helped you in making yourself prepared for the next Google update. If your website is not mobile-friendly yet, gear up and start implementing the above tips to save yourself from the April 21 update.