Monday, March 9, 2015

Are You Mobile-Friendly? Prepare for Google’s New Changes in Search

Have you ever selected a Google search result on your phone, and found that the content was too wide for the display, fonts too small or irregular size, and content just painful to read?  It’s likely that web page has not been optimized for viewing on a mobile device.
As marketers, we aspire to understand our audience, know where and how they want information, and to deliver that information at the right time, on the right device.  So if your audience is using mobile phones and tablets to access the internet, you’ll want to be aware of the need to optimize for mobile devices.
Web users in the U.S. now spend the majority of their digital consumption time in mobile applications – more than on desktop computers or mobile web surfing.  Mobile usage on the whole, including web browsing and app usage accounts for 60% of time spent using digital media, with desktop activity making up the remaining 40%.

Mobile-friendly websites in search results

Beginning April 21, 2015, Google will be using mobile-friendly factors in its mobile search results.  This means that a web page that has been optimized to work well on mobile devices will rank higher in search results.  Google said this algorithmic change will have a “significant impact” in the mobile search results, impacting all languages worldwide.  A Google blog post also said “users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.”

So what’s a ‘mobile-friendly’ web page?

According to Google, a page is eligible for the “mobile-friendly” label if it meets the following criteria as detected by Googlebot:
·        Avoids software that is not common on mobile devices, like Flash
·        Uses text that is readable without zooming
·        Sizes content to the screen so users don't have to scroll horizontally or zoom
·        Places links far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily tapped

Content from Indexed Apps to Appear in Search Results

Apps indexed by Google will also benefit from recent changes. Google said that apps that are indexed by Google through App Indexing will begin to rank better in mobile search. Google said this only will work for signed-in users who have the app installed on their mobile devices, which means only Android apps today, but likely to expand to other platforms in the future. Google explained this “may now surface content from indexed apps more prominently in search.”

Why should you care?

Facts about law firms and company legal departments, from the 2014 ILTA Tech Survey show that attorneys in 98% of responding organizations use mobile devices for email or internet access.  So your customers are likely more active on mobile devices than you might have guessed.
Your very brand and reputation are influenced by the web experience you provide to users, especially if, like many Edge Legal Marketing client companies, you are in the technology space.  If a prospect seeking, for example, case management software, should find your website in Google search results, click through and have a frustrating experience on your site, it will reflect poorly on your company and products.  Technology companies are held to a higher standard of quality on the web.

What to do Next

A simple test, if you have not done this, is to visit your website using your mobile device. Navigate many if not all pages, and check the quality of the experience.  Note any problems you see in links, page viewing, or readability.
To get help with making a mobile-friendly site, ask your webmaster to check out Google’s guide to mobile-friendly sitesA person with webmaster level skill can get ready in time for the April change by using the following tools to see how Googlebot views your pages:

·  To test a few pages, you can use the Mobile-Friendly Test.
·   Get a list of mobile usability issues across your site usiing the Mobile Usability Report.
·    You can also see Google’s mobile guidelines

·    If you offer apps, check Google detail on app indexing. Get your app indexed for the best user experience.

Posted by Megan Miller, Edge Legal Marketing