An iPhone user taking a photo of graffitiSo you might’ve recently been advised to take the mobile friendly test in the wake of Google’s latest algorithm update.

The search engine giant now wants to promote mobile friendly websites in favour of those that aren’t designed with mobile users in mind. The update has been handed the somewhat clunky moniker of ‘Mobilegeddon‘.

But setting aside excitable American portmanteaus, in good old-fashioned Norfolk parlance we’d simply say: “thass a big ‘un!”. The update is expected to affect more search queries than Panda, which itself affected 12% of global search queries.

How Will Mobilegeddon Affect My Website?

Let’s not get swept away by the hype. Here are some key points to bear in mind when considering your position as the owner of a small business website:

  • The algorithm update will only affect mobile searches — smartphones are included, but not tablets
  • The update will boost mobile friendly websites, rather than demoting non-mobile friendly sites
  • Your website will not be removed from Google’s index for not being mobile friendly. Don’t listen to the claims contained within those dodgy emails from any so-called SEO expert who uses Hotmail as their contact email address.
  • The algorithm assesses your site on a page-by-page basis, so you’ll get some benefit from this update, even if you only have a few mobile friendly pages
  • Each individual page on your site however, is either mobile friendly or not. There are no half-measures, so if your pages are tripping up on a minor technical issue get it fixed quickly!
  • Relevancy still trumps mobile friendliness. So if your page is still the best match for a search query, then you should still rank for it (for example, a brand name search)
  • The update will begin rolling out on April 21st 2015, but it could take several days to a week to complete

So What? My Customers Don’t Use Mobiles

Well in some cases that might be true. For now. The Guardian article linked at the start of this article cites research released by Emarketer in April this year which predicts that in 2015 the amount of time UK adults spend using their mobiles will surpass the amount of time they spend chained to their desktop devices. An earlier report by Emarketer claims that mobile search is also strongly tipped to surpass desktop search this year.

But having said that you’ll need to make a decision about whether optimising your website for mobile browsers is an important step for your business to take right now. And the best way to make reliable business decisions is to look at the data you have.

Here’s how to find out what percentage of your website traffic comes from mobiles:

  1. Log in to your Google Analytics account
  2. Go to the ‘Reporting‘ section
  3. Select ‘Audience‘ from the left-hand menu
  4. Expand ‘Mobile
  5. Click ‘Overview

This page will give you statistics about the percentage of your web traffic that arrives via desktop, mobile, and tablet devices.

If the majority of your traffic is desktop-based, you can afford to wait a little longer before taking action, but chances are it’s only a matter of time so keep an eye on these stats. Do you want to be caught asleep at the wheel when your customers make the switch to mobile and your competitors have already taken the initiative ahead of you?

Is My Website Mobile Friendly?

Take the Mobile Friendly Test

As a first port of call, use this handy tool by Google to work out whether your website is already mobile friendly or not. The tool only assesses a single page at a time, so be sure to test all your key pages (for example: home, contact us, storefront, a sample products page).

Results from the Google Mobile Friendly Test
Use the Google Mobile Friendly Test to find out whether your site is mobile friendly.

It’s possible that only some of the pages on your site will be deemed mobile friendly, so it’s well worth checking several to be sure. If your website passes muster, you’ll get a green notification telling you the page you tested is mobile friendly. You can rejoice for a moment. And then test several more pages from your website.

Run a Search on Your Mobile

If you want to be doubly-sure that Google will list your site as mobile friendly, then you’ll need to pull out a smartphone and look up your website. If you see a grey ‘Mobile Friendly’ label just before the meta-description then you’re in the clear.

Example search result for a mobile friendly website
Search for your company and look for the grey ‘Mobile friendly’ label.

Try running a search for some of your primary target keywords and see how many of your competitors have the same badge of honour — could this shake-up help you steal a march on them?

Check Google Webmaster Tools

To get an overview of mobile issues found across your whole site in fell swoop you might also wish to run the Mobile Usability Report that comes with Google Webmaster Tools.

Bear in mind that data from WMT is normally about 3 days behind, and that Google’s view of your webpages is determined by the last time it crawled them — if you’ve recently made changes it may take some time for Google to revisit your site and revise it’s appraisal.

Not set up with Webmaster Tools? Refer to this guide, or give us a shout and we’ll set up your account for you.

Tools to Help You Optimise For Mobiles

If your website has been identified as in need of improvement, and you’ve decided that mobile traffic is important to your business you’ll want to start taking action now. The following tools provide a great starting point:

Conclusion

In short — don’t panic! Google is frequently releasing algorithm updates these days, many of which they do silently behind our backs. The fact that they’ve publicly announced this update means it is one not to be ignored.

If nothing else, this update represents an excellent opportunity to review your current website design and see how you can develop it to better serve your customers and prospects. You might even gain an advantage over your competitors by doing so.

Hopefully this tutorial has given you a good starting point for discovering whether your website is mobile friendly, and what steps you can take if it isn’t. We’ve been building mobile friendly websites as standard for the past two years so you’re more than welcome to contact us if there’s anything you’d like us to help you with.