If you’re someone who keeps a keen eye on the Analytics traffic to your site, or if you just want to make sure Google ranks you as high as possible, then there’s a couple of things going on in the world of Google right now that you might be interested in.
Starting from April 21st, Google will begin ranking mobile-friendly sites higher than those without mobile support. Google already started highlighting mobile friendly sites last year (the image on the right is an example of how it appears), so the move to use this as a factor in a site’s ranking shouldn’t be a great surprise to anyone.
With more and more mobile devices out there, it’s important that the web as a whole works and that people are presented with websites that can be easily viewed and navigated from whatever device they happen to have.
The rise in mobile device usage isn’t something that’s going to slow down anytime soon, so encouraging (or, blackmailing?) people to update their sites is something that will benefit anyone browsing on their phone or tablet which helps make the web a better place. Unofficially, a mobile friendly site is also an indicator that the site has been maintained and possibly recently updated, and it means that it’s likely that the site will be more readable no matter what device, so while it might seem “unfair” it could be argued that Google has the user’s best interests at heart. After all, no one wants to have their top search results present web pages which are out of date, hard to navigate and require a flurry of hand gestures to zoom in, out and around the page.
It is worth testing how your site currently performs using Google's Mobile-Friendly Test. You'll quickly be able to see if your site links are too close, the text is too small, you are using incompatible plugins and any other factors that make your site a mobile-hater. If you do find that your website is hating on mobile devices talk to your web development team about what is involved in rectifying the issues identified. Even better, if you are considering a new updated design for your website ask about designing it on a responsive framework (such as Twitter's Bootstrap) which has been built to ensure that your website adapts its display based on the viewer's device.
On a similar note, Google is now including the use of HTTPS as a ranking signal.
This means, if your site is using HTTPS (or SSL), you'll be receiving a minor boost to your search ranking. Although the boost is minimal, if you’re competing in a tightly contested industry then that small boost may be the edge you need. Given Google's vocal emphasis on promoting a secure web, all indications are that this is an area which may have more impact on your rankings in the future, so even if it isn't likely to benefit you now it's certainly something to keep in mind and consider with any future website updates or development.
These two signals combined mean that Google is sending a pretty clear messages that site owners need to invest in keeping up with current trends, and that they are happy to leave those that fall behind at the bottom of the search rankings. If your business is currently reliant on organic or paid search results for business then keeping up with these changes and trends is going to be the key to on-going SEO success. If your business is still a fledgling of the web then starting off on the right foot and getting as many of these factors right will help ensure you get the search traffic you deserve.
If you want to talk more about what these changes mean for your business, or about some site updates, then please get in touch.