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Make Your Website Mobile Search Friendly or Lose Google Rank from 21st April

go mobile responsive

Up until now, going responsive was the trend that topped the criteria list of web development trends, and was playing a big scenario among search engines. Rewinding fast forward, rules are meant to change in the internet marketing world and has already begun to change – because from 21st April, your search result rank could be badly affected if your site has not yet been optimized. This is what Google has announced, find out here.

As for my word that your site could be badly affected, I am referring to the announcement made by Zineb Ait Bahajji, Google’s Webmaster Trends team member; that the mobile friendly algorithm change would bring about a ‘significant impact’, greater than those brought by Panda and Penguin roll outs.

The question is – how much?

In a recent analysis outlined, the speculations lay as to whether Zineb meant that the latest algorithm change would affect about 40% of the queries made on mobile, compared to the Panda and Penguin with the former affecting approximately 12% of the queries made in English and the later leaving only a 4% impact on global searches made on mobile and desktop.

Well, we can positively assume that the mobile search algorithm is meant only for mobile devices. So, that lets us leave out another speculation that maybe the new algo roll out is expected to affect significantly the search results made across both mobile and desktop.

However, we cannot simply ignore the fact that this year there would be a rise in the number of smartphone users. That means 50% of all the search queries made, would be done via mobile devices. If that is the present scenario of the user demographic worldwide, then optimizing your site into mobile search friendly does not seem to be much of an option I think, and you would not want to face such a potential risk right now, do you?

To assist site owners properly, Google has suggested some important strategies to help websites become mobile search friendly. If you want to receive the best advice, then do not ignore what Google has to say. Take a look at the criteria mentioned by Google to help a site become search friendly –

google mobile friendly noticeSource

Few Things To Keep In Mind

1. There is no benefit for responsive web design.

2. To qualify the ‘mobile friendly’ test, Google search bots must be able to crawl both CSS and JavaScript.

3. The update is going to have a huge impact on searches made from tablets.

4. Google is focusing on a more dedicated mobile index.

5. Your site’s page level and not site width would be determined.

Does this mean going responsive will not help?

Going responsive is important but your goal now should be to become more than just it. A Responsive design will resize your content so that it fits within the browsing parameter of a mobile device. However, that does not help to adjust your content to the mobile’s browsing pattern or caters to the need of the users who search for information via mobile devices. What Google wants is you to improve your site to accommodate these users.

How Do You Start Optimizing Your Site As Mobile Search Friendly?

#1 – Use Tools To Optimize Mobile Website Status

Google’s Mobile Friendly Test Tool

Conduct a mobile SEO audit with the help of Google’s “Mobile Friendly Testing Tool”, which will help you find whether elements of your site like the CSS, JavaScript and images are easily crawlable or not. You can also use the Webmaster Tools mobile usability report of Google, to check issues like improper content size, uncommon mobile device software such as Flash, text readability without having to , and other elements.

Check for any errors detected during website crawl, by selecting the Crawl Errors report from Google’s Webmaster Tool, and then selecting ‘Smartphone’ tab. Some of the crawling issues to look out for are –

1. Whether the search crawlers can index important areas of your web pages?

2. Are the pages that are difficult to find, redirecting to 404s and soft 404s?

3. How is the Google search bot detecting those errors?

4. From which XML sitemaps and pages are the referrals and links being drawn from?

Once you detect the issues, make sure to block or unblock them according to your need, and avoid drawing links and referrals to pages that are non-existent.

Google’s Fetch Tool

Fetch is a webmaster tool that diagnoses a URL and then submits it to index it for a fresh crawl. This helps to simulate the manner in which Google renders URL of a website. Google’s Fetch tool has two types of operation modes that you can use to test the manner in which Google crawls your site’s URL. They are – the ‘Fetch’ mode for quick check and the ‘Fetch and Render’ mode for deeper view.

In the ‘Fetch’ mode, Google will crawl a site URL to the path corresponding to your request. If the requested URL is crawled successfully, you can get to review the response that has been sent to the Google bot by your site. It is a low level operation for a quick check of any security issues or network connectivity occurring within your site.

The ‘Fetch and Render’ mode, on the other hand is for deeper inspection and will instruct the search engine bot to crawl and display the web page just in the same manner like that of a browser. The Google bot can access information (like pictures, CSS and JS files) referred by your site’s URL to render any of the running codes or to capture a visual image of the page. You can refer to this visual image to check any difference between how your web page is rendered by Google search engine and your web browser.

Clicking on the option ‘Mobile Smartphone’ will help you to check how Google’s crawlers view your important web pages. Some of the relevant issues that you need to check are –

A. Is your site’s content accessible?

B. Are the crawlers accessing the right version of your page or is it being redirected to a non-relevant page?

C. Are relevant search engine elements like meta title and description of each page discoverable?

D. Have the pages of your website been correctly set up?

Google’s PageSpeed Insights Tool

Page load speed is an important factor to affect your SERP rank and therefore, test your site’s speed by using Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool.

You can also prioritize optimization of certain pages, by referring to Speed Suggestions report found in Google Analytics. Just click on the Site Speed option under the Behavior section. There is a mobile advancement section, which you can use to detect any issues pertaining to pages having the maximum number of views via mobile devices.

#2- Use Tools To Assess Traffic Behavior and Search Visibility

Search Queries Tool

Google’s Search Queries helps you to find out the number of search results that have returned URLs belonging to your website. You can use this tool to find out information about the most viewed web pages of your website.

With Search Queries, you can track down data relating to the number of pages that have been accessed by mobile users, with the help of the report from Search Queries.

With the Search Queries tool, you can access data like:

Total number of queries – to find out the total number of search queries, your web pages have returned within a given period of time.

Total number of query list – To find out the total number of user queries that have appeared specific your website’s URL.

Total number of impressions – To check the total number of times pages from your website have appeared in the result page. You can also keep a track of any change in the present average number, compared to the previous number.

Total number of clicks – You can keep a track of the number of times users have clicked on a search result linking to your web page.

Total number of click-through-rates – You can find out the total number of impressions made for every click user, made to your site.

The average ranking position – You can check how a query related to your web page ranks on the SERP. A green signal will indicate an improvement in your site’s search rank.

When using this tool, some of the relevant points that you need to consider are as follows –

1. Are the top queries on your mobile SERP the same as that found from your desktop?

2. Do mobile users follow the same pattern to access information from mobile devices like desktop users?

3. Which search queries have generated better CTRs even though their ranking position is not good?

4. Which of the search queries show better traffic trend and ranking position?

You can assess user behavior and search visibility further, by analyzing your website’s search visibility on Google Analytics with that of the mobile organic advanced segment.

Then use this report to find out –

5. The total number of pages from the perspective of mobile organic traffic and conversions.

6. The total number of pages having the average number of bounce rates and lower number of conversion rates.

Do the pages, accessed from mobile devices, show the same user behavior when accessed from desktop or tablets?

You can use the Mobile Reports of Google Analytics to find out the mobile devices that are used the most by your visitors when they enter your website.

#3 – Use Tools To Measure Your Site’s Search Competitiveness And Performance

There are many tools that you can implement to find out the popular keywords, which are being utilized by your competitors in the mobile search engine, and other relevant keywords that are potential to target.

When you have finally compiled a list of keywords that your competitors are using, combine them with keywords listed in the report for top mobile search queries. You can create a master list of all the relevant keywords.

Categorize these master keyword list and use the Google Keyword Planner to perform a keyword research. The keyword planner not only suggests you with new keyword ideas, but you can also keep a track on the recent mobile search trends and volume by viewing data from the ‘Mobile Trends’ and ‘Breakdown by Device’. You can use this data to zero down your search on keywords with higher potentiality.

When you are finally sure which relevant keywords to concentrate more on, track your mobile search rank based on these relevant keywords.

You can compare where you and your competitors stand when it comes to using these relevant keywords. Use this comparative study to analyze and understand the ranking gap between you and your competitor.

Keep a track relating to any increase or decrease in your web traffic by using Google Analytics ‘Custom Alerts’.

How To Promote Relevant App Content On Mobile SERP?

You can refer to the step-by-step guide here – https://developers.google.com/app-indexing/webmasters/app as recommended by Google. Other than that, you can try out these following suggestions –

#1 – By implementing smart app banners to promote your mobile app. One of the common errors that Google suggests to avoid is downloading interstitials.

Here is a screenshot of some recommended actions that Google suggests:

mobile seoSource

#2 – Create a landing page to promote your site’s mobile app and link it up to the app store, from where your users can click to download the app.

#3 – Index the content of your mobile app in search. As per Google’s announcement, the bots will now surface the indexed content from your app in search engines more prominently. This means users (who have installed your website’s app) can now directly view a content present within your app from the mobile search engine page.

If you have not made your website mobile friendly, get down to work now! Whether anyone accesses your site from a desktop or from a mobile device, a friendly website will always help users to get relevant information from anywhere, anytime. For more details regarding Mobile Friendly Web Design visit Responsive Web Design. So, optimize your site to make it mobile search friendly today.

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Sudeep Banerjee

Written by

Sudeep Banerjee is the Founder & President of B3NET Inc., the leading Orange County Web Development firm, since 1999 in California. He is a forward thinking leader with expertise in Digital Marketing, Web Design and Mobile Application Development and Amazon Sales Consulting. He is an author, speaker and a consultant with 28 years of experience. He loves to play Basketball and Golf.