The prophetic howls from the cyber soothsayers about Google’s looming update make for great headlines.
But what you are not being told is probably much more interesting and far more pedestrian than all the windy, doom-laden bleating now darkening the technological horizon.
The update, dubbed 'mobilegeddon' by its critics, is scheduled for release on April 21 and is fairly straightforward. Google has chosen to highlight and prioritize websites that are optimized for mobile devices by applying a “mobile-friendly” designation to their search result entries. News of the update has been met with a slew of dire warnings from online experts, stoking the fears and the frenzy of executives, marketers and webmasters everywhere.
Google itself is partly to blame for the doomsday talk. In its official statement, the search giant was unequivocal about the impact the update will have:
“This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high-quality search results that are optimized for their devices.”
While it’s true that “mobile-friendly” sites will fare better after the update, the change shouldn’t be cause for a nervous breakdown. Lost in all the gloomy talk is the tremendous opportunity the update presents for those looking to enhance their online presence and maybe even find new markets and additional revenue. Embracing the change will give business owners an excuse to discover new options, mine new data and explore a whole new submarket.
Websites optimized for mobile devices have much higher conversion rates. Optimizing your site allows you to start taking advantage of this, but it also allows Google to assist you in this effort. Follow these simple steps to maximize your redesign effort:
- Become optimized for mobile by reviewing Google’s guide to mobile-friendly sites
- Review your site on your own phone or tablet to gauge mobile functionality issues
- Review your mobile trends — both local and global — across all devices and platform types to gain insight into your average buyer persona
Understanding the browsing habits of your customers is one of the great advantages of Google’s forthcoming update. Do your research before the search changes are implemented, and your organization can take full advantage of the update once it’s released.
Choose Your Weapon
Understanding the differences between the two types of adaptable websites — mobile and responsive — will help you determine which one your organization needs. Mobile sites, for example, are easier and cheaper to design, but they lack flexibility. They essentially create an entirely new site that is designated as mobile in the URL. Although cheaper, it’s also more labor intensive because webmasters must update information twice: once for desktop visitors and once for mobile users.
Responsive web sites work on all devices, so information only needs to be entered once. These sites work their magic by “responding” to the device operating system and the screen size of the browser. Responsive websites are Google’s preferred type of site configuration, so the rewards of using it are abundant. Responsive sites are more costly, however, so it is important your company understand its options before forging ahead with one or the other.
If nothing else, Google’s April 21 update offers businesses and website owners the opportunity to revise and retool their virtual storefronts. It’s an excellent chance to freshen up stale content and promote products and services that might appeal to mobile users.
Avoid Mobile’s Pitfalls
Given how important this new market has become to future growth, it’s surprising how many sites still can’t seem to avoid these common mobile errors:
- Situating links so close together it’s difficult to determine where one ends and another begins
- Developing sites that look fantastic on desktops but are a mess on mobile devices (and vice versa)
- Publishing forms, surveys or other content that are too small to read
Users access your site on a mobile device 64% of the time. Rather than wallowing in the pessimism of the doom-and-gloomers moaning about Google’s update, use April 21 to your benefit. With a few well thought out preparations and a bit of reasonable forethought, you’ll be celebrating a whole new audience for your products and services.
Are you ready for Google’s mobilegeddon update? Let us know about it in the comments!
Mike Canarelli is the CEO and Co-Founder of Web Talent Marketing, a full-service digital marketing agency based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. As the force behind Web Talent, Mike lays the foundation for his clients’ success by applying his experience, expertise, and passion for excellence to every account. His mission, and the mission of the agency, is to partner with clients to deliver exceptional results. Follow him on Twitter @MCanarelli.