Is Your Site Optimised for Google’s Mobile Search
By now, small business websites should be delivering a satisfying mobile search experience. Or at least, that’s what Google thinks.
There’s certainly been plenty of encouragement from Google including the release of its mobile-friendly testing tool. There’s also a Google guide to creating mobile friendly websites.
As I have already written, Google is upping the ante with the introduction of mobile friendliness as a ranking signal. To quote Google they “expect it will have a significant impact on our search results”. The message then could hardly be clearer.
The ranking requirements for Google are changing to include mobile parameters. Top rankings may elude your business if your site fails to comply and you could see a drop in traffic.
The question then is what does your site need to do to comply? I recommend the following.
Take the Test
For a quick overview of how compliant your site is, run your home page through Google’s mobile-friendly tool. You may find your website gets a clear pass. If your site is not compliant, it may not just be page formatting that lets your site down but also images, CSS or Java Script.
Tap Into Additional Google Resources
An alternative to the above is to use Google Webmaster Tools Mobile Usability Report. Under Crawl Errors you can select Smartphone. Under this tab you’ll be able to find any problems identified by Google’s smartphone crawler. Obvious things to watch out for include content that can’t be crawled and 404s.
To view your site as Google’s Smartphone Crawler does, use the Fetch as Google function, selecting the Mobile Smartphone option. Is the correct version of your site being displayed? Are all the correct page elements being found, including tags?
To delve even deeper use the Screaming Frog tool (or give the job to someone else).
Also check site speed, a ranking factor for both site formats. You can get information on this under the Behaviour tab in Google Analytics.
If you have found you don’t have any mobile functionality the next steps are redundant. However, if you have a responsive or separate mobile site, then please read on.
Assessing Mobile Visibility
Here, you once again need to dig into Google Webmaster Tools. Specifically, the Mobile section of the Search Queries Report. A good place to start your analysis is to compare the performance of the same pages and queries across the two platforms. You can also check for high ranking queries that convert poorly and lower ranking pages that perform well. What trends are discernible?
At the end of your analysis you’ll want to have a clear picture of gaps (compared to the desktop site), best and worst performing pages. Don’t forget to look at bounce rates
Competitiveness and Performance
Your site’s performance considered on its own is meaningless. This is something clients can find difficult to grasp. Being competitive, comparing your site’s performance to that of competitors, is what really matters.
You’ll need to get a hold of a ranking tool (software) that allows you to assess rankings for mobile search and also allows you to track their performance. You can also find the keywords competitors are ranking for and add them to your site and reports. But there is a qualification. Keywords are only worth including on your site if they bring quality traffic. Use Google’s Keyword Planner and Mobile Trends to help discern value. Better still, use customer research.
In cases where your competitors rank higher than you, try to find why. Tools can help here too. It may have less to do with On-Page factors but rather links and social standing.
Long term tracking whether for mobile or desktop search is time consuming but pays dividends because too few businesses invest the time.
Summing up, with regards to developments in mobile search, I strongly suggest time spent now will help your online business avoid a Google-related wobble. There’s no place to hide.