April 15, 2015 Garyeoghan

What is this big Google mobile update?

There’s a simple Google update on the horizon which is causing everyone in the SEO/ Digital Marketing world to freak the hell out. News articles, blog posts and forum comments akin to someone screaming ‘won’t someone please think of the children?!’ are popping up left, right and centre all over the web. Some sites are even referring to it as Mobilegeddon.

It’s the Google Mobile Update taking place on April 21st (this time next week at time of writing) and it will be trawling all over the internet to find out which sites work well on anyone’s phone screens, and which are as out-dated as Snake on a Nokia 3310.

So should you be freaking out and throwing your phone out the window in horror? Well, no!

Here at Boyd Digital our big reaction to this monumental change was something like this:

“So are our sites mobile friendly?”
“Yes. We blogged about this months ago and told everyone to update accordingly.”
“Ok, Cool.”

For those who aren’t quick to the beat and might know anything about this change, DON’T PANIC! Boyd Digital has you covered. In this blog post we’ll be telling you the what, why, how, where and when of this update so you don’t have to worry any longer.

So what is this update everyone is going on about?

The Google mobile algorithm update on April 21st is simply a new addition to the huge number of factors the engine uses to decide how it ranks sites. This one has everyone in a tizzy because it is focussed solely on mobile.

And why exactly is it important?

Well everyone uses their phones more these days, but it helps not to think of them as phones. They’re mobile computers that we have on us at all times. And because we spend A LOT of time using them, be it on social apps or searching for a nice new pair of shoes, we do plenty of searching on them too.

phone in pocket

The reason it’s an important update is because websites that aren’t responsive or easy to use on mobile are incredibly frustrating and annoying to use. Bounce rates for sites on mobile are high, and Google is using a simple method to test whether your site is a reason why the mobile user experience isn’t going as well as you and they want it to be.

This update will look at websites on a page by page basis and evaluate how well a site works when used on a phone or tablet.

How can I tell if my site is mobile friendly?

Take the test. We reckon Google must be giddily rubbing their hands while watching the traffic for this mobile test site sky-rocket over the last week. It’s the quickest way of seeing how your site is doing, where it’s doing well and what quick fixes you can inform the person of charge of running your site about to make it more mobile friendly.

Mobilefriednlytestscreengrab

All you do is enter your site URL and hey presto you get a calculated score letting you know what’s potentially going to harm the mobile site’s chances of ranking well over the next few months.

Who will be affected by the update?

Every site under the sun is quietly being lined up and forced through inspection. When the update begins next week, Google is going to be looking at any site no matter what it does or who it’s aimed at.

For example, a big site like McDonalds is seen by Google as not ready for the update

McDonalds Mobile Test

While a site like KFC’s currently works much better on a mobile device.

KFC Mobile Test

Right now the Colonel is doing much better than Ronald on mobile. And notice how in the second picture  KFC’s cookie policy is clearly presented and has spacing in the text to make it incredibly easy to read. This update isn’t about creating a complete overhaul for your site. It’s simply the case of making it easier to look at something on your mobile.

Where will this update happen?

Fleetwood Mac would be very excited about this update because it’s happening everywhere. So sites here in Scotland, over in Norway, or even down in Yemen will all be getting tested to see how all sites perform, no matter what language the site is in.

Because the test is essentially testing things like the space and size of buttons and text on mobile sites, it makes it an easier thing to judge than say the language of Meta data or significance of Schema mark-up.

And is there anything else I should know?

Yes. There is a very simple point to remember. Optimising your site for mobile won’t see an up shoot in conversions on mobile, but will simply help maintain a consistent user experience across a number of devices. While people do use their phones a lot more to search, many still don’t purchase items.

girl phone browsing

Instead, a user generally searches a specific terms (like a pair of shoes) on their phone when commuting home, finds an optimised site with the information and product they want, and then will usually wait until they’re home in front of their laptop to brand search the site they were on and make a purchase that way.

Mobile optimisation isn’t the be all and end all for your site, but come April 21st it will be a bigger factor than before and that’s something your site should be on top of. This year is most definitely the year of mobile, and you can read more about that on the Boyd Digital blog by clicking here.

And if you’re wondering if your site is good enough for this update by having us look a it, use the contact form below this blog post to get in touch.

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