Have you received an email from Google? If not, you could be in trouble!!!
Time to focus on mobile
Last week we received a message from Google which told us that our website would now be ranked according to its results in its mobile search algorithm, rather than its desktop version. What this means is that Google likes us…! Our company, as well as our clients all received emails from Google letting us know that our websites are mobile optimised and as such we received one of Google’s mobile-first indexing notifications.
If you are a person living in the modern era… and let’s face it, if you’re reading this you are – then you’ll know how important the mobile phone has become in everyday life.
Google know this too.
They’ve known it for years in fact. For some time now, they have been building their algorithms around mobile devices and focusing their search recommendations on mobile-friendly sites.
Today, around 60% of all internet browsing is done on some kind of mobile device. Google wants to ensure that the sites it lists in its search results are the most relevant and the most useful. Therefore their algorithm has been shifting inexorably toward mobile for at least the last five years, if not longer.
I was at a Google conference in 2010 and remember being told then by a Google spokesperson that they were switching to what they called “Mobile First” within a few months. So, this would suggest that they have in fact been focusing on mobile for at least eight years!
Mobile search is dominant
Google’s recent communications have further pressed home the point that mobile searching is highly important. In fact, they have gone as far as to say that websites will very soon be ranked based on their mobile search algorithms, as opposed to their desktop search algorithms.
What does this mean?
Basically, if your website doesn’t work well on mobile phones. And by work well, we mean it has specific responsive coding built into its core that resize it to the screen size of the device that is viewing the site. It will soon start to disappear from desktop searches too.
In simple terms, if it doesn’t work on mobile, it might start to disappear from Google searches.
So, what can you do?
The first thing we would recommend is getting your site checked for mobile responsiveness. And, we would recommend you get that checked by someone who knows what they are looking for, not your mate down the pub.
We offer a Website Health Check service that can tell you the answer to the mobile question as well as a number of others.
The second thing that Google wants to be sure about is your site’s speed.
Speed is highly important when it comes to mobile browsing. This is because the load time of your website is greatly lengthened when it comes to mobile data networks such as 3G or 4G.
This means, that if your site is slow on a desktop hardwired into the ethernet, it’ll be continental-drift-slow on a mobile.
So, speed is very important.
How do you improve your site speed?
The speed of your website could come down to numerous factors. Not least of which would be the way it has been built in the first place. When it comes to WordPress websites, for example, plugin overkill is a common factor in sites loading slowly.
Unoptimised images or videos will also cause load speed issues, if large files are trying to load up the site will struggle to run fast. On a well-built website there should be differing image and video sizes which are set to load up depending on the device viewing the site. The site will be slowed if not, because the bandwidth will be eaten up by the constant need to load big images and videos.
The subject of bandwidth leads us on to hosting.
Hosting is another very important factor in the speed of your website. Your hosting is, in essence, the place where your website is stored. Despite the common misconception, they are not all floating somewhere in a cyber cloud in the sky. They are in fact stored on a server, usually in a server farm where thousands of other servers are also located, and millions of websites are stored together. Like a warehouse with shelves stacked high with boxes.
The hosting effects your sites speed in a number of ways, the major factor being the bandwidth – this is in simple terms, the doorway in and out of the server. If thousands of people are trying to get in at the same time, this will clog up the doorway and therefore, everyone moves slower.
So, more bandwidth means it can manage more visitors at the same time.
The other factor in hosting is what is called the DNS or “Doman Name Settings” which you ideally need tailored to your own requirements. Most hosting will set this as a one-size-fits-all setting and that will be that.
The DNS works a bit like a directory, as all websites despite what they might be named (www.dragonfiremarkeitng.com for example) are actually all sat on what is called an IP address – which looks like this 220.127.116.11. What the DNS does is cross-reference that against the domain name and show the correct website.
The better this is set up the better.
If your website isn’t already mobile responsive and doesn’t properly work on a phone or tablet then – bad news first – realistically you’re going to need a new one. It takes more time and effort to shift a non-responsive website to a responsive one. There’d just be so much hacking of code and so many things that could go wrong you’d be better off getting a new one built.
When you do go for a new site, the company that does it should ask you a few questions or at least discuss with you a few basic principles:
- What is your current website visitor ratio on desktop vs mobile?
- Do you have Google Analytics in place to measure this?
- Will the number of mobile visits to your site likely increase or decrease over time?
These few simple points will help the person working on your website understand what is most important. Some businesses, by their nature, are going to have more mobile visitors – restaurants for example. Others are more likely to have visits from desktop devices – marketing companies for example.
This is due to their target customers and when and where they most commonly are when they search for your business.
For more information about keeping your site well-ranked in Google, come and talk with us today!
Written by Alex.S
Digital Marketing Consultant & Keynote Speaker @ Dragonfire Marketing