Get Mobile-Friendly or No Search For You!

April 21st, 2015 - it could be just business as usual for you...or it could be the day all that lovely organic traffic that Google's been sending you dries up into nothing.

All because of the dreaded Google Mobile-Friendly update.

You have heard about the Google Mobile-Friendly update right?

Here's what the big "G" announced back on February 26th:

Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. 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. ~Google Webmaster Central Blog

In Google's own words - this update is going to have a significant impact on search results, which is probably why they saw fit to announce it ahead of time, which is in rare form for them.

In fact, while the Penguin and Panda are synonymous with death and destruction among webmasters everywhere (I am exaggerating ever-so-slightly here), the mobile friendliness update is poised to easily eclipse their reach by affecting potentially 60% of the sites on the web.

The fact that this change is happening shouldn't be a surprise to anyone remotely aware of the popularity of smart phones and mobile browsing. While Google has long been recommending mobile friendly versions of websites, they're finally drawing a line in the sand;

It's either get mobile friendly or be eliminated from mobile search (in other words - no search for you!).

So with April 21st almost upon us, time is running out for you to get your site ready. Is it time to panic and look for a tall building to throw yourself off of?

Well, not necessarily, step one is to determine if your site is mobile friendly or not according to Google.

Is Your Site Mobile-Friendly?

So how can you tell if your website is mobile friendly or not?

Well, if the site was built five years ago or more, chances are it isn't mobile friendly at all.

However, if you worked with a reputable web designer in the past 3 years, it's likely they would have recommended either a dedicated mobile website, or a responsive design website.

Responsive design websites can adapt to any screen size, from desktop to tablet to smart phone automatically.

Still not sure if your site is mobile-friendly? Enter the Google mobile friendliness test!

Google has a free test that you can use to find out if your website is mobile-friendly, no guess work required.

Did your site pass?

If not, don't panic just yet...first ask yourself the following question:

Do I Need to Fix My Site Right Now?

If your site needs to be mobile optimized, you have a few options.

  • You could get a mobile version of your website
  • You could get a responsive version of your website
  • Or you could do absolutely nothing at all

While many web designers and developers will spout words like "mobilegeddon" and intone that it will be the end of your business as you know it if you don't buy a new website (namely from them); this update doesn't have to be doom and gloom.

Don't get me wrong; having a mobile friendly website is definitely a 'best practices' recommendation, and most of us aren't in the position to pass up any additional "free traffic" we can get from Google.

But choosing to upgrade to a mobile friendly website will also depend on the type of business that you have and whether your website is directly contributing to your earnings already.

After all, a 60% decrease in 0% earnings still equals $0.

If you've never been able to measure ROI on visitors to your website, and you don't sell anything online, you may be among those who can afford to wait before you invest in a new or mobile version of your website.

However, if you know for a fact that you're getting a sizable chunk of organic traffic from Google right now and you're not mobile friendly - then it's gut-check time.

You need to ask yourself if your business can handle losing a significant portion of that free Google traffic after April 21st.

You'll also want to look at your competition [Ninja Tip: run the mobile-friendly test on your direct competitors] and see if they're in the position to leapfrog your website.

If your industry is rife with mobile-friendly competition, you'll need to get your site optimized if you want to stay visible in Google's organic search.

How Much Mobile Traffic Does My Website Get?

To find out how much of your traffic is mobile, you can check Google Analytics, or your email service provider for data.

For instance, in Google Analytics you can check out the percentage of your mobile visitors and what their bounce and conversion rates look like.

Here's how:

1) Login to your Google Analytics account.
2) Click on "Audience"
3) Click on "Mobile"

This will tell you all that you need to know in terms of how many mobile visitors you get to your website.

If there is less than 10% of mobile coming to your website, chances are you're in no huge rush to get a mobile-friendly version of your site up and running.

Not even 20% of the traffic to Honeypot Marketing.com is from mobile visitors as you can see below:


[Ninja Tip: For a more accurate picture of the amount of mobile traffic, expand your date range from 1 month to 3 or 6 months. You can also compare 2015 with 2014 and see how much (or how little) mobile traffic has increased to your website versus the previous year.]

Don't have web analytics hooked up to your website?

We won't judge you....but really? You don't have analytics for your website????

Seriously, another way to get a sense of the 'mobility of your audience' (I just made that up) is to check your email service provider's stats.

Mailchimp, for instance has a report that breaks this down for you. Just click on your list, then click "stats" and scroll down and you can see something like this:

This will at least tell you the percentage of mobile visitors who read your emails, and if they click any of the links to your website - they'll be surfing your website from their phone.

The example above is from my personal Mailchimp account for one of my sites. It shows almost half of my subscribers are reading my emails on their phone, so making sure my site is mobile friendly makes a lot of sense - especially if I'm trying to sell anything to the mobile crowd.

Steps To Get Your Website Mobile Friendly

Now that you know:

1) That your site is/isn't mobile-friendly

2) The approximate amount of mobile traffic to your website

3) Whether your website is responsible for generating sales for your business

You can make an educated decision on whether you need to make your site mobile-friendly right now, or perhaps hold off a little bit longer.

Honeypot Marketing recommends having a mobile responsive  website that adapts to any screen size so that your online presence can handle whatever screen your audience happens to use; that's what we use (and you can see above that we passed with flying colours!).

Need help with getting your website mobile friendly? We can help, just drop us a line and let's talk responsive website design and the 'mobility of your audience' (sorry - I just had to throw that in again).

P.S. Keep in mind that it will take at least a few days before the new mobile-friendly search update is reflected across all of Google's data centers world wide; so even if your website isn't mobile friendly just yet - it shouldn't disappear from mobile search exactly at 12 am on April 21st.

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