On April 21, 2015 Google changed their mobile search algorithm to give preference to mobile-friendly websites. By now we’re accustomed to Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter changing the rules of the road. We’ve learned to expect change and pivot. Get ready. It’s time to pivot again.
What does this particular change mean? Well, in short, it means that your website should be built employing Responsive Web Design principles or have a mobile-friendly alternative. If that last sentence sounds a bit tech-heavy, don’t worry. I’ll break things down.
First, find out if your website is mobile-friendly in Google’s eyes? Run your site through Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test page.
If you’ve kept your site updated, you’ll most likely pass with flying colors and be presented the image below. Congrats! You can skip the rest of this article. I’ll catch you on the next round of soul crushing changes.
Another way to test is googling your site on your mobile device. If the result has the “mobile-friendly” label, your work here is done. Keep in mind if you’ve recently updated your site, you’ll have to wait till Google’s GoogleBot revisits and re-indexes your page. Remember, it’s all about Google!
If you see this instead, read on. We’ve got some work to do.
So what to do next? Do you maintain your websites yourself? If yes, are they run on one of the popular Content Management System (CMS) platforms like WordPress or SquareSpaces, or are they built with HTML/CSS?
If you’re using a CMS platform all you need to do is find a theme/template that is “responsive” (another word for mobile-friendly) and swap it out. Of course, make sure you keep these considerations in mind.
- Backup the original site.
- If customizations have been made be sure you have a way to preserve those customizations, hopefully with a child theme or custom.css file.
- Use a development environment and test before launching to prevent lengthy site interruptions.
This article isn’t to detail every step. If you’re maintaining your own sites, you already know these. If not, start Googling. All the answers are there.
Here’s two tutorials on making your present WordPress theme responsive to give you an idea of what’s involved if you want to go the DIY route – Make Your WordPress Theme Responsive and Tuts+ Converting WordPress to Be Mobile-Friendly. I haven’t tested these. They are just representative of what’s available to help you. Swapping a responsive theme in most cases will prove much easier and provide the added bonus of a fresh updated look to your website.
If your sites are built with straight HTML/CSS you’ll need to get up to speed with Responsive Web Design. Again, something beyond the scope of this article, but a Google search will uncover everything you need to know. Since you’re already an html/css coding geek, adding these mobile concepts will be a breeze.
If you have a web gal or guy maintaining all your sites simply have a conversation with them to get things updated. As web professionals they should be on top of all this and ready to make the necessary changes. If they don’t know what you’re talking about or try to convince you these changes aren’t necessary, you seriously need to look for a better web person.
My goal for this article isn’t to walk you through all the details of getting ready for Google’s new algorithm, but only to inform you that it’s happening. I have gathered several detailed articles written by smart folks far geekier than me that will help you through this transition.
If you have any questions or find you need help in any way please reach out to me. I’m here to help.