“Honestly, if you're given the choice between Armageddon or tea, you don't say 'what kind of tea?’”
― Neil Gaiman 1
There was something very unusual about April 21st 2015. It was no surprise… We all had plenty of advance warning. It was the talk of blogs and worldwide industry scuttlebutt for months in advance.
The hype machine went into overdrive. "The End of Days is upon us!" it wailed.
From the Nottingham Post on March 31, 2015:
"When Google announced the launch of a new mobile-friendly algorithm in early March, webmasters and businesses across the land shuddered in anguish. With a certified launch date of April 21st, this ranking update will severely penalise search results for all websites that fail to meet 'mobile friendly' specifications." 2
This was in fact a departure for the usually taciturn Google, Inc. which normally maintains a dark cloak of secrecy around the sorcery it uses to determine search return rankings. Nope, they told us clearly and plainly on Thursday February 26th:
"Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices." 3
Did you miss it?
If you did, have no fear. Your rank on search returns may have sunk but there is something you can do about it. For mobile websites Savannah GA, turn to United WebWorks - they are a big part of our success story.
- Your text is way too small, along with the resolution of entire pages. You've seen it- you pull up a website on your phone, and it looks as if it was designed by a race of super-intelligent ants. Everything is there, but the only way to interact with the page is with Lilliputian fingertips. So you are left with pinching and zooming your way around the page.
That goes for links too. Anyone with normal sized fingers should be able to cleanly tap on a button or text-based link without frustration.
- If a handheld device accesses your site and can't tell what resolution to start with, it's not good. This can be corrected with some extra coding in your website’s design to make it adaptive and responsive- a real, live mobile website!
- Your page content is either too wide or too tall for the screen accessing it. It's like trying to interact with a web page through a keyhole. There are ways to get your content to scale in response to the viewing device, and if you don't include it, well, Google will take its ball home and not be your friend anymore.
- You incorporate Adobe Flash or other software elements that aren't supported by most mobile operating systems.
This should all make perfect sense. Every set of statistics out there shows that we are rapidly eschewing our "giant, unwieldy" laptops and desktops for the smaller screen in our pockets and purses. This chart from early 2014 shows a sure sign of a new world a-comin' for those of us who access the internet:
Percentage of users accessing the internet correlated with device used:
John Gruber and Benedict Evans 4
So what's a business to do?
First of all, test your website with Google's handy Mobile-Friendly Tester
If you see this...
...Then you might consider taking action. What can you do? Here are some starting points:
Leave it alone for now
Try this- open up your home web page, then resize the browser window to about the size of a phone screen. If everything shows with a bit of down scrolling, searchers may tolerate your site on their phone. If content is hidden to the left or right off the screen, you're in trouble. Phone users hate that.
Tweak your existing site
Adjust the existing elements to include more open space. Enlarge the font size. Change the theme on your WordPress, Joomla or Drupal editor. You can also purchase a plug-in to do the job.
Create a separate site for Mobile
Redirect searchers to an alternate site with similar content, but full adaptable to a small screen. You'll have to maintain two sites, but it works.
This might be a good option if you were thinking about the effectiveness of your old website anyway. If you can swing it, there might be some very good strategic reasons for this if you haven't yet digitally integrated your marketing, customer service and sales ( and possibly finance and HR)
Of course we would be amiss if we failed to mention that the fine people at United WebWorks, Savannah Georgia have majored in just this kind of help for businesses that see the necessity of staying on top of the obvious trends toward online and inbound marketing. Want to know more about us? We make beautiful, functional mobile websites Savannah GA, Atlanta, the southeastern US and nationwide. United WebWorks will be glad to help you navigate the post-apocalyptic world of "Mobile-geddon!"
4 http://daringfireball.net/2015/08/most_important_deviceClick to edit your new post...