Google is set to release a “mobile-friendly” change to it’s search engine algorithm on 21 April 2015, but it will not be necessarily friendly to your website. There were be significant changes in how Google searches and determines what content should be pushed up it’s ranking scheme. There are multiple issues with this update that will impact how your online business operates, markets and competes. The worst thing you can do in this situation is nothing, as Google’s algorithm will make rapid changes that can significantly impact your years of hard work to build a robust online presence.

In order to stay ahead of the competition, we want you to be informed. Small businesses will bear far more of the burden of this update because of the need for a mobile website, which most small businesses are not optimized for. Consider it in this light: the update is going to have such a significant impact on the marketplace, France has launched an anti trust lawsuit against it. So, let’s begin:

1. Google Wants You to Improve the Mobile Search Experience

Searching the web on a mobile phone goes one of two ways: either it is brilliantly simple or it is horrendously hellish. If you have ever browsed the internet with the mobile phone, you probably know all too well the frustration of constantly zooming with your fingers, accidentally hitting the wrong link, not being able to see things very well, and giving up because the e-checkout experience can be so futile. Well, Google wants to change that experience to a better one and for good reason.

Mobile devices account for over 60% of Google’s searches. The mobile algorithm update is essentially telling websites to become more user friendly or face the consequence of becoming irrelevant to the search engine. The search engine optimization effort of a business should clearly focus less on trying to appeal to Google, and become more appealing to a mobile user.

This is the meat of the update and this is where Google wants you to spend your time and money. So, what can you do become mobile friendly?

– Build a mobile version of your website. If you do not have a mobile version, you need to get one going quickly as Google’s update will essentially ignore websites that are not mobile friendly.

– No more slow mobile pages. Google has harped about “slow mobile pages” for years now and the update will finally make it part of their search criteria. The goal for your mobile website should be for it to load any page in less than a second.

– Mobile optimized rendering and indexing. Your website needs to be completely crawlable by Google’s rendering and indexing robots. This includes JavaScript, CSS, image files, and any other website asset that is necessary to show Google your website just like you want to to appear to a user. If you are using separate mobile and desktop URLs for your website, you need to have them both optimized so the redirect to the mobile version is recognized and crawlable by Google.

– App download interrupts. If you offer a native application to users, you need make sure the user’s mobile browsing experience is not interrupted. Often times the transition from the mobile version of the website to the native app is not user-friendly because it completely blocks off the user from completing tasks. Instead, Google wants native apps to be offered in a small HTML banner across the top of the screen, where the user can view the app in their phone’s application store or they can close the banner and proceed with mobile browsing.

– Unplayable content. Some types of media or content are not playable on mobile devices, such as ones that use licensed software, such as Adobe, or other software that is not supported on mobile devices. Users want to see the content they were expecting to view and the simple fact they are using a mobile device should not prevent them from doing so. Google wants content to be HTML5 standardized.

– Responsive website design. This is a concept that dictates website design must respond to the needs of the users and the devices they are using. This impacts the layout, size and content of a website based upon the physical size and capabilities of the device being used. Since mobile devices have all sorts of different sizes, such as a tablet or a small mobile phone, you have to take these all into consideration with the design of the website. Google is pushing everything towards being completely designed with mobile users in mind, starting from the ground up.

2. Do Not Shed Mobile Content, Provide It

Google has recognized a trend with mobile web development that simply sheds content from mobile sites. The thought behind this practice is that mobile users are not a home and do not have the time or tools to utilize all the information that would be available on a desktop site. So, parsing down a website to it’s bare bones has been the trend. But the data shows that most mobile browsing occurs at home and Google’s new algorithm is going to reward or punish websites on the level of content provided to mobile users.

With the new Google update, mobile content needs to be additive and responsive. This is along the same lines as responsive website design mentioned above, but it goes further than simply looking at what sort of device the user is searching with. Instead, how can your mobile site be optimized for the mobile user taking into considerations the abilities of their mobile phones, such as camera, GPS, etc. Content needs to be tailored to where the user physically is located on the earth. For example, if your website can sell widgets to customers in Canada, your mobile shopping cart should have information ready to go so it can ship to Canada without forcing the mobile user to provide additional information. In a sense, Google is forcing you to do two things with regards to providing content: provide tailored content to the specific mobile user and to make sure the user does not have to do any more than is absolutely necessary to use your website.

So, What Can Be Done to Keep Up With the New Google Mobile Update?

Google is obviously pushing the website browsing experience to the mobile device and it is going to reward sites that are mobile-friendly and it is going to punish sites that aren’t. We provide the full spectrum of mobile solutions so every website can make the transition to a mobile version and remain competitive with Google. If you do not have a mobile website, we can get you up and running in a short development time. If you have a mobile website, we can make sure it is compliant with Google’s rules on mobile website development. We can also provide development to ensure that your mobile website is a robust and tailored experience.