The Observation Deck

8 Essential Tips for Surviving Google’s Mobilegeddon Update

tips for updateGoogle began its much anticipated “Mobile Friendly Update” in April 2015, and many brands and webmasters are still anxiously awaiting the results on their sites. The new mobile-friendly ranking algorithm is designed to boost mobile-friendly pages in Google mobile search results.

Many SEO experts believe the impact of this update could be greater than Panda or Penguin updates. This is because the majority of websites prone to penalizations are small and medium-sized businesses, who do not currently provide a positive user experience for mobile users; whether it’s via a responsive website design or mobile website.

So how can you ensure your website won’t plummet in mobile search results with the rollout of Google’s mobile-friendly update? Here are some tips to make sure your website complies with the update.

Tip #1: Test if your site is mobile-friendly

The best way to know if your site is already indexed by Google as “mobile-friendly” is with Google’s free Mobile-Friendly Test Tool. This will tell you if your site has the mobile-friendly label in mobile search results.

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If your site doesn’t pass the test, it’s time to consider a redesign or a separate mobile site. The easiest way to optimize your site for mobile users is to update to a responsive website design. There are countless responsive design themes available for every platform. Check out ThemeForest to start.

Tip #2: Select smart fonts

Image: Native fonts for iOS, Android and Windows Phone.

Make sure the font you choose looks good on a mobile device. The font needs to be large enough that mobile visitors can read it without pinching or zooming. 12 pixels is the minimum font size Google recommends. You also want the font to be clean and simple; not overly decorative.

Tip #3: Less is more when it comes to content

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When it comes to your site content, remember less is more for your mobile audience. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind as you plan your mobile content:

– Keep paragraphs short

– Use bulleted and numbered lists

– Use simple, strong headings and subheadings that get your message across quickly

Tip #4: Think “touch-friendly” for site navigation

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According to Google, a minimum size of 7mm x 7mm is recommended for primary tap targets (or call-to-action buttons) and a 5mm space minimum between each tap target. This will help your mobile visitors easily navigate and engage with your mobile site.

Tip #5: Make sure it loads quickly

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Proper page load time is now a critical factor when it comes to mobile optimization. Google states it “must deliver and render the above the fold content in under one second, allowing the user to begin interacting with the page as soon as possible.” Run a test with Google’s Page Speed Insights to find out if your website is responding slowly for mobile and apply the suggested fixes.

Tip #6: Optimize images

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Large images can look great on mobile screens, but if they take too long to load they are doing more harm than good. Try using image maps to combine multiple images into one single image or CSS sprites to combine all of a page’s images into a “master” image that only needs to load once. You can then use the CSS properties “background-image” and “background-position” to display the part of the image you wish to appear.

Tip #7: Avoid Flash animations

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Flash-based content and animations are not mobile-friendly, so opt for HTML5 animations instead. Unplayable content can quickly turn off your mobile visitors. Google recommends against using <object> embeds for videos from YouTube, Vimeo, Wistia, etc. and instead using <iframe> embeds which are compatible with a broader range of mobile devices.

Tip #8: Optimize for local search

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According to Google, around 50% of mobile searches include local-related terms. Therefore, Google (as well as Yahoo and Bing) give priority to local business listings and place them at the top of organic search results in mobile search. Make sure your Google+ business page profile is up-to-date with accurate contact information. You can also register for other local listings and apps such as Yelp, Apple Maps, LinkedIn and directories like Yellowbook to ensure you’ll appear at the top when someone searches for your business on a mobile device.

Conclusion

Optimizing for mobile is more important than ever so follow these tips and your site can survive Google’s latest mobile-friendly update. Do you have any other SEO tips to optimize for mobile? Share with us in the comments.

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