Mobilegeddon (AKA Mobilefriendly) update: [fergcorp_cdt_single date=”21 April 2015″].
“This change,” wrote Google in a February 26 update to its Webmaster Tools Blog, “will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results.” On bulletin boards and comment areas, speculation turned to who would win — and who would lose — when the algorithm change begins to be felt in a few short weeks.
Google wants a faster, smoother experience for mobile searchers. It does its part — by putting powerful analytics tools in the hands of the public and the marketing community. But the burden of doing the work: the actual business of ripping out suboptimized or mobile-dysyfunctional guts of a given site installation and turning bloated sites into athletes — lies with the individual entrepeneur.
Just about every webmasters has seen rising mobile traffic over the years. In many cases, mobile usage is often as much as 25 percent or more of total site access, often much higher. It’s time to regard these people as a primary — not a secondary segement and craft an experience they won’t reject. And although the 4/21 deadline is just a few weeks away, there’s still time to correct critical site errors interfering with the mobile experience.
To ease any doubts about the fitness of your web properties to withstand the 4/21 adjustment, do the following three things:
1. Take Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test
Go to the link above. Do this right now. You can establish in just a few minutes whether your site will pass or flunk on April 21st. These serious errors — identified in Google’s Mobile SEO Guide — are the most frequently seen by Google.
With any lucky, you’ve gotten a cheerful “Awesome! This page is mobile-friendly” at the end of your report.
If you’ve flunked, stop reading this article. Something is very wrong with the way you’ve put things together. You’re exposed. In trouble. Call your agency, your IT people, or your people on Fiverr. You have very little time left. I’m serious.
If you’ve passed, read on, because you’re not yet out of the woods.
2. Consult Google Developer’s Page Speed Insights
Passing the Mobile-Friendly Test isn’t enough. You don’t want your site to be “just adequate” on mobile devices; you want it to be great. Dig under the hood with the Google Developer’s Page Speed Insights Tool. It can tell your team whether:
1. You’re using Flash in a way that’s problem on mobile (for example, a Flash-based Amazon affiliate link in one of your sidebars). Check to make sure that you don’t have odd Flash elements firing away in old pages or posts.
2. You have render-blocking scripts on your pages that need to be moved or reorganized. This is a common problem with sites that have added features over the years to become “stickier.” Google recently made it much easier for site owners to identify and fix this kind of common error.
4. Your low-cost deal with your hosting provider is hampering you (you might have to move from a shared to a dedicated hosting plan if this is the case).
5. You could speed up performance by better use of browser caching.
6. You could compress the images and/or other resources on your site.
PageSpeed insights will give you exactly the information you need to make things better. Even if your score isn’t perfect, you only have to be better than sites in your competitive category to win the mobile visibility wars. Use the 80/20 rule to focus on “low-hanging” fruit issues that can be solvest quickest at the lowest cost.
3. Consider a Spring cleaning
Site performance and general appearance can decline over time, impairing the experience on both mobile and desktop devices. Even if you’ve dodged a bullet this time round, it’s wise to do an inventory/audit of your site. Can image file size be reduced without impairing the user experience? Are all plug-ins up to date? Can the nav structure be simplified? Are comments accumulating like barnacles somewhere, slowing down overall performance? Has Flash been truly banished from the user experiencer?
Audit your plug-ins. Pare down the number of extraneous calls your site is making to other servers. Anything you can do to make your user experience more minimal and “lightweight” will help you perservere through April 21st and beyond. Google can help, but you must do the work: that’s the way optimization works.
If you’re not struggling with the 4/21 issue, congratulations. You’re either a great webmaster or someone who’s yet to get his/her feet wet. If you’re just getting started, Google provides an excellent help guide to designing mobile-friendly websites at:
Browse Didit’s Mobilegeddon Industry Performance Reports
a) Major U.S. PR Firms (published 4/2/15)
b) Large-cap companies on Long Island (published 4/6/15)
c) Major New York-based advertising agencies (published 4/9/15)
d) Major U.S. charities (published 4/14/2015)
e) Major “white shoe” law firms in the U.S. (published 4/15/15)
f) Big CPA/accountancy firms (published 4/15/16)
g) Top-rated New York-area hospitals (published 4/17/2015)
h) S&P 100 companies (published 4/17/2015)
i) Lawyers on Long Island (published 4/17/2015)
j) Large pharmaceutical companies (published 4/17/2015)
k) Notable restaurants on Long Island (published 4/18/2015)
l) Consumer brand sites of P&G, Unilever, and Kraft (published 4/20/2015)
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