Google’s Mobilegeddon: Are you mobile-ready?

Geraldine McDonagh, head of search, ZenithOptimedia
By Geraldine McDonagh, head of search, ZenithOptimedia | 20 April 2015

In an effort to incentivise and push brands to create mobile friendly content, Google is introducing ‘mobile friendliness’ as an organic ranking signal on 21 April.  

From tomorrow, brands that do not meet the new ‘mobile friendly criteria’ will be demoted in the mobile search results.

This new mobile algorithm, is expected to be bigger then the Penguin (targeting spammy links) and Panda (targeting content) algorithm updates combined. It will negatively impact those brands who have not optimised their web experience for mobile, despite consumer demand.

Mobile penetration is at an all-time high and mobile search query volume is now outpacing desktop search, in some categories well over 50%. The update doesn’t come as a surprise, but can be considered as a formal nudge from Google to make brands get their act together when it comes to mobile.

And the good news for users, is that we will find it easier to get relevant high quality search results that are optimised for our devices, and we can say goodbye to clunky, slow to load sites with small text.   

Optimising across mobile and app content

In February, Google began crawling and indexing app content for logged in users, meaning that app content is being treated as a new type of search result.

This in conjunction with the update rolling out tomorrow, provides brands the opportunity to not only optimise their apps to be found in the mobile search results, but to also deep link their app to their website. With Google now being able to choose to return a brand’s website or app depending on the user query, brands can optimise accordingly.

By being able to surface more app related content, it can be argued that Google can start driving more app development and revenue for the likes of Google Play, and its associated TV, games, books, movies content.

Getting prepared
In preparation for this change brands can test if their site is mobile friendly via Google’s mobile testing tool, and take the relevant steps to make their site mobile friendly.

Some immediate action the Performics team recommends to make your page mobile friendly includes:

Ease-of-use:  Create easy-to-read pages on smartphones with content that only scrolls up and down, not side-to-side.  Move high-impact website content to HTML5, Flash isn’t supported on some devices.  Utilize viewports for usability.  Avoid small fonts, and don’t use multiple font types and sizes which can appear messy on mobile devices.

Accessibility: Ensure that tap targets aren’t tiny or cluttered, which make page content, such as a search bar or navigation link, difficult for mobile users to engage with.

Navigation: All pages should include a simple search box, with a link to advanced search options, to help users navigate your site.  Global navigation should include links to the homepage, browsable lists, the search page and help.  Product pages should include sorting options (e.g. new, lowest price, etc.).  And your global footer should include links to the homepage, general company info and user assistance.

Conversion: Reducing the number of steps to check-out is critical on mobile; think speed-to-conversion.  Fine-tune sign-up, registration and checkout processes by streamlining forms and removing unnecessary exit points.  Track metrics around user experience (e.g. bounce rates, time-on-site, site speed) and conversion (sales, sign-ups, leads, store locator interactions, coupon downloads, etc.) to inform optimization.

Geraldine McDonagh
Head of Search


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