Google 21st April Mobile Update : Are you ready?

SEO and all things mobile.

April 21st is a landmark day for the mobile experience. It’s the day that Google will hammer you if you’re not “mobile-friendly”.

“Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results.” – Google Webmaster Blog

This represents Google’s biggest publicly announced ranking change for nearly decade, and will see a lot of older legacy sites fall down the rankings. How far down is not known yet, that’ll become clearer over the coming weeks and months. However, if you’re not mobile friendly now then you need to fix it immediately.

WordPress and mobile friendly

If, like 25% of the world’s websites, you’re running WordPress then moving to a mobile friendly experience is pretty straight-forward. Start off speaking to your digital agency and get them to either drop a “responsive” theme over the existing content. Or get your agency to modify the theme so it works responsively using “viewports“.

Confused by what that all means? It probably goes without saying that if your current WordPress agency hasn’t moved you to a responsive team then it’s probably time to find a new agency. You can search Google easily enough, and depending whereabouts you are in the UK the top 10 results will give you a great indicator of who’s a good agency with a good understanding of search results.

How do you know if you’re mobile friendly?

Awesome - this page is mobile friendly
You can run Google’s basic tester, and you’re looking for the message above.

You should also see the words “Mobile-friendly” next to the listing in Google when you carry out the search on a mobile device. Be aware, not all responsive themes in WordPress are automatically mobile-friendly.

Other user experience factors are measured, too, and that includes clear “tap-targets”, load-speed, absence of flash/shockwave, bad re-directs, links too-close together, small text, poor use of mobile-only versions.

In the agency world there is also some speculation that additional tags will be added to the mobile results, widely thought to start with a “fast/slow” tag. That suggests it would be a good idea to make sure you site is faster than those around you on the search engines.

Not directly related, but certain to carry ranking weight for both mobile and desktop devices is moving to using a secure domain – you can read on SSL/TLS/Secure domains here.

What if you’re not running WordPress?

This is an all-together more complicated subject, moving a legacy hand-cut site to response might take months of planning, design and delivery. But if your site is built in Joomla, or Drupal it could be a great deal quicker.

You first port of call, in both cases, is your digital agency. Speak to them about options and plans to go mobile. If you get nowhere then it’s time to change your agency – you can always contact us and we’ll give you an honest appraisal of what’s needed to go “mobile friendly”.