Mobile SEO: Should I Be Worried?
Ian Lurie Apr 14 2015
As a CEO and father, I’m an expert on anxiety.
So I understand why Google’s mobile search algorithm update (aka Mobilegeddon) has CEOs and marketing teams popping Xanax. Before you reach for the prescription, though, do this test. It’ll help you figure out if you need to take action. Then, keep reading to see your options:
Not every business needs a mobile presence. If you sell algae to isolated paramecium communities, you can fall a bit in the mobile search results and still hit your revenue target.
0 pointsIs your mobile traffic growing?
0 pointsDo you get more than 10% of your traffic from mobile devices?
1 pointDo you even care about customers on mobile phones? (no = 1 point)
0 points Swear a bit. Then keep going.
1 points Yay! You’re done. Move on to more urgent things.
First, head over to Google Webmaster Tools. Or send a minion. Click All Messages. Do you see a message like “Fix mobile usability issues found on http://www.yoursite.com?” Then your site has issues, and it may have a hard time ranking well in post-April 21 mobile search results. Yes, it’s that simple to diagnose.
If, for some insane reason, your team doesn’t have Google Webmaster Tools set up, use the Google Mobile-Friendly Test Tool. Test your home page and a few other pages on your site. Then, go get your team to set up Google Webmaster Tools (and Bing Webmaster Tools for good measure).
1 pointDid your site pass the mobile-ready test?
0 points Your palms are sweaty. Keep going.
1 points Phew. You’re done. Go stress about cash flow, instead.
Read the warning message you found in step 2.
100 pointsWhat % of pages have issues? Subtract that from 100
100 points I bow to you. Go have a beer.
80-99 points Tune up, but you’re in better shape than Lance Armstrong on BPH.
50-79 points Get worried. You’ve got things to fix.
0-49 points Yeahhhh ok. Lock your dev team in until you score 80+.
It’s up to you, but if you’re still reading and you want to compete for customers in mobile search results, you probably need to make some changes. Whether you make them now or later, here are your options:
If 75% or more of your site has mobile usability issues, consider 2 reasonable and 1 slightly less reasonable option:
Fix those issues. If you have a few specific problems with a site that’s otherwise mobile-friendly, fix those problems. Yay! You’re done!
Re-build your site on a responsive framework. Responsive sites adapt and adjust to different size screens. I favor this option. It’s more expensive at first, but it’ll save you money and hassle in the long run.
Build a separate mobile site. Send visitors to a separate mobile site if they’re using a mobile phone. This gets really complicated for anything but brochureware. Don’t let your team or web developer push you this route without talking to someone else.
Google’s new mobile algorithm will consider the mobile-friendliness of each page on your site. You can improve mobile-friendliness for important pages first, saving time, money, and hopefully rankings.
Just make the most important pages mobile friendly. This gets tricky. If your site runs on a content management system, you may not be able to edit specific pages. You could replace current pages with ‘static,’ responsive ones, though. This is a great short-term solution.
Build specific mobile-friendly pages. Or, direct mobile users who visit specific pages on your site to mobile versions of those pages. Blech. This will turn your web site into unmaintainable spaghetti. And you’ll end up paying much more in long-term development costs. But if it’s all you’ve got, do it.
The bottom line: Yes, the Google mobile search update is a big deal. But you need to decide if it’s a big deal to you. If you want your business to do well in mobile search results after April 21, you have lots of options. Exercise them and you could have a real competitive advantage.
A brief note
I don’t know about you, but I’ve heard enough about mobile SEO in the last four weeks. I’d like to talk about something more refreshing like, I dunno, taxes. But this is really important. It’s a big change. So I’ll keep talking about it. Until I can’t stand it any more. Which may be soon.
Shameless self promotion: Yes, Portent does mobile SEO
By the way: I’m launching a new video series called “Fat Free Internet Marketing Tips.” Every day or so, I post a new, less-than-ten-minute video answering a specific digital marketing question. First chapter is all about SEO. You can watch the basics and get a good background, then hand the nerdy stuff over to your dev team, laugh at my attempt to sound authoritative, or create new memes based on my tacky slides. Watch it here.
CEO & Founder
Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent Inc. He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Forbes.com and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, SIC and ad:Tech. Follow him on Twitter at portentint. He also just published a book about strategy for services businesses: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle. Read More