What Google’s Latest Mobile-Friendly Algorithm Update Means for Marketers
The online mobile user numbers rose to 40 percent in 2015, prior to which desktop users accounted for 90 percent of online users. Clearly there has been a drastic shift in online user activity toward mobile devices in the recent past, and Google is well aware that its search engine needs to adapt to the increased influx of mobile users. That is exactly why Google rolled out an algorithm update last April. Nicknamed ‘Mobilegeddon’, the algorithm was the very first to consider mobile-friendliness of websites as a ranking signal. A year later, Google just rolled out another update to fine-tune its mobile friendly algorithm.
What’s the latest algorithm update about?
Google’s May 2016 algorithm update lays further emphasis on mobile-friendly nature of sites. Google’s latest update focuses on two points, helping users find sites that are mobile-friendly and which have relevant content. Google has not mentioned anything about penalizing sites that are not mobile-friendly or anything about these sites disappearing from the searches within a certain date as of now. However, it makes it clear that sites that are mobile-friendly will fare better in search engine rankings.
Of course, Google makes it clear that the intent of search engines will not be lost in drawing the focus on mobile-friendliness of sites. Sites which have great content will fare well in the search engine rankings, even if their mobile-friendliness score is not as impressive. However, evading a mobile-friendly site design will only buy you some time. Going by how fast mobile user numbers are picking up, it is only a while before mobile-friendliness becomes a norm and not a choice. Also, while sites that lack a mobile-friendly design but have great content, may manage to attract site visitors, they may not be able to retain them and also clock in higher bounce rates due to the poor usability, contradicting the purpose of SEO strategy.
How to make your site more mobile-friendly
You can choose to either setup a separate mobile version of your site or adopt a responsive design to make your site mobile-friendly. Google is in favor of the latter. A responsive site accommodates the screen size to that of the user, displaying content accordingly for the best user experience. Unlike the mobile version of a site that has its own URL, a responsive design shares the same URL for all devices, which means all the 'click-throughs' on the URL can add up, adding to your SEO efforts. On the other hand, if you have a separate mobile version for your site, you will need dedicated SEO efforts for your desktop and mobile sites as they have different URLs.
Getting back to the subject of making your site mobile-friendly, you want to keep your content concise (so users do not have to read an in-depth text), and use images sparingly (so your page-load speed is faster). A simple web design without any complex navigation controls allows for a seamless user experience. Make sure that the font sizes are optimized for readability, and the button sizes adhere to the norm to prevent wrong clicks.
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