Categories: Home Builder SEO, Internet Marketing for Home Builders, Responsive Design, Website Design | Posted: March 27, 2015 | By: Anna Chandler
The deadline is coming for mobile-friendliness. On April 21st, Google’s newest mobile-friendly algorithm is officially rolling out -though may take a few days or weeks to finish its changes. This change, bigger than Panda or Penguin, is bound to shake up SERPs. It may be the biggest SEO change we’ve seen in years. Is your website ready?
We’ve discussed before what the mobile-friendly tag is and why it matters. So if that ranking factor already exists, what is changing? Right now Google is only using the tag to help user behavior: “click on this, it’s a good site”. Mobile traffic is half of total website traffic and growing so of course Google wants to make sure people have an easy time surfing and buying from their phone. Ergo, this algorithm change steps from promoting websites that are mobile-friendly to punishing websites that aren’t.
Google’s mobile-friendly label is page-by-page. Its possible to have a mobile-friendly tag on some sections of your website and not others. We saw that ourselves; Ideal Homes had a 100% score on their home page but their blog came back with a warning. This is an important time to consider user behavior. Is every page mobile-friendly? Is your realtor login or community search easy to use? And if there are pages that aren’t, do they have to be – like a complex interactive floor plan designed for desktop use and printing – or is this something you can change with your web designer?
Google’s mobile-friendly label is in real time. This is a big plus. Unlike coming back from a Panda hit, (notoriously difficult to recover from) Google is constantly willing to re-test the mobile layout of your site. That means any tweaks now will reap big dividends come April 21st.
You are either mobile-friendly or not. You get the label or you don’t. There’s no “90% okay” option. Google told us that while there are “over 200 different factors” at play -the big ones being font size, button spacing, viewpoint, and readability- it’s ultimately a yes or no answer.
You can test your website now. If you already have the mobile-friendly tag, don’t sweat it. You’re in good shape and will likely see page rankings improved after April 21st. To explore specific pages, use the official Mobile-Friendly Test. Or dig deep in your mobile usability report from Google Webmaster Tools. In fact, if you’re not seeing a mobile-friendly tag you, your web designer, and your SEO team need to dive into that report as soon as possible.
Now is the time to act. It’s not going to be impossible to crawl out of a hit come April, but why let your website take a nosedive when we know exactly what’s happening? And design changes can take awhile – especially if you need a whole new website. And how would you know that?
Red flag: If your website isn’t mobile-friendly. No mobile site, not responsive, this needs to be your company’s #1 concern.
Warning: If your website has a mobile version. It may survive April but Google is pushing really hard for responsive to be required – the new default of the web. A responsive redesign needs to be a portion of your budget this year.
Green light: If your website is responsive. Assuming it already has a mobile-friendly tag to (and it should), you’re going to be helped and not hurt by this rollout. April may be a great month for you! That competitor with an antique website holding on to a higher search rank in one community due to sheer inertia? Things are going to shake up.
Although even with a mobile-friendly tag for your home page it’s worth it to look into your usability report. There may be pages buried deep that need work. This is a unique opportunity in internet marketing: we know exactly what to do to make your website start ranking better, and we know what’s about to be rewarded and what’s about to be punished. So again – is your website ready?