Keeping Up with Google: More About Mobile

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Please tell me that you updated your website to be mobile-friendly in time for Google’s change on April 21st… you did, didn’t you?

If you don’t know what that means, I’ll assume that you didn’t – and I better explain what I’m talking about.

Most people with websites know that they have to be built so that they give Google what it needs to know to offer their sites properly in Search Engine Result Pages (called SERPs). This is the list of pages provided after you’ve typed an inquiry into the search box and hit Return or Enter.

There are many technical details included in any website, out of sight of the general public, that permit Google to get the information it needs to properly index your website. If you have a hair salon, your ideal is to appear high in the search result for salons – not hairdressing supply stores, hair replacement or any other category.

With the new requirement to be mobile-friendly, Google is acknowledging the fact that a growing proportion of searches are made on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. In fact, it was in 2014 that the number of mobile searches began to exceed those from desktops.

To give you an idea of the power of Google, right now, around the world, Google processes more than 100 BILLION searches each MONTH. Google is offering search results in 40 languages and this number keeps growing. So satisfying Google’s needs is definitely part of the game of having a successful website.

What Should Your New Mobile-Friendly Website Look Like?

So what does any website need to offer to comply with Google’s new rules?

  • The type should be large enough to be readable when viewed when the page first opens on a mobile device. If your site it not yet converted, your type may appear quite small until a person uses the pinch function to make the page larger. That was good enough for 2014 but not for 2015.
  • Links must be far enough apart that a person can hit the right link on the first try while viewing your website on a smartphone. If your site has not yet been converted to mobile-friendliness, it is probably hard for your customers to tap the link they want.
  • It does not use any software that is normally not available on a smartphone, like Flash. Flash is special software offered by Adobe that offers self-running animations used on the opening pages of high-end websites. While it’s an attractive feature, Flash animations may soon become a thing of the past. Flash has proven to provide opportunities for hackers to infect people’s systems with destructive software. In fact, Flash has just been banned from the widely-used browser Firefox meaning that websites that use Flash will not work on Firefox.
  • When your website opens, it should automatically be sized so that no one needs to scroll to the left or right.

In the first days of smartphones and smaller tablets, none of these features were required by Google. But the one thing that Google is known for is constantly (as in never, ever stopping for a moment) striving to offer a better browsing experience.

If you want to see some excellent mobile sites, here’s a few that recently won the Webby Awards, the highest honor a website can receive. Take a look (using your smartphone, of course) and compare it to your website to see how yours measures up.

  1. houzz.com. This home design site quickly sorts you into the right category – looking for home designs? A professional to help you? Want to buy stuff? Or just look at pretty pictures? Clean, easy to read, big links. Just right.
  2. marshallheadphones.com. Highly legible, offers you their top products right off the bat. Simple, nothing to distract you.
  3. virginamerica.com. This airline website wastes no time in asking you how many people are traveling and where you want to go. They specifically rebuilt their website – even the mobile version – to enable people to book their tickets in half the time of a typical airline site.

If you have not updated your site, you are currently being penalized by Google which means your site appears farther down in those SERPs we were talking about. To keep your name in front of people who might be looking for your products, call Visual Edge Design and get them on the job of making your site mobile-friendly!