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Assessing your website's mobile optimisation
by Startacus Admin
Last week we reported on Google’s announcement that it is to incorporate ‘mobile optimisation’ as a ranking signal, into its search algorithm from the 21st of April 2015.
Don’t be alarmed though as this sentence isn’t nearly as apocalyptic as it first appears.
It does however mark a very significant shift in the history of the search engine and is poised to have a substantial impacton all manner of websites, for whom until now, mobile optimisation has been a matter of user comfort and enjoyment, rather than search engine page rankings.
We have covered the announcement and what it means in detail here, but just to set the context for a moment, this search algorithm update will almost certainly have an impact on any website that receives traffic from Google on mobile devices. Website pages which are well optimized for viewing on a mobile device will be given a higher level of precedence over those which are not, in searches carried out through Google on mobile devices.
To underline the importance of the changes which are to take place, Google itself has stated that they will have ‘a significant impact in our search results’.
There is, of course, no reason to panic. Google implements algorithm updates regularly throughout the year, but it just so happens that this time these changes will be unlike anything that we have ever seen before.
In true Startacus ‘glass half full’ style we are choosing to see this as an opportunity; the chance to make our site as spiffingly fantastic on mobile devices as possible, and lend a helping hand to all of you along the way.
It can be very difficult to know where to begin in a situation like this, but we are inclined to suggest that you start at the very beginning, it is after all a very good place to start.
Assess Your Mobile Optimisation Yourself
Before you do anything else you need to gain a sense of how well optimised your site and its various pages are for viewing on mobile devices. This will allow you to assess the level of change which needs to take place on mobile versions, and create a plan of action that you can implement both in the immediate and on an ongoing basis.
Pick up some mobile devices and browse through your site, making notes on a number of aesthetic and usability features including; images, text size and layout, accuracy of link clicks, navigation tools, loading speeds, advertisement positioning, e-commerce features etc.
Try this on several different models and sizes of smartphone / tablets, to make sure that you are giving yourself as diverse an overview of the situation as possible.
The idea behind this exercise is to try and get you into the habit of thinking about your site’s appearance and functionality when viewed on a mobile device. Much of mobile optimisation is centred on providing visitors to your site with the best possible browsing experience, so doing this regularly can really help to inform of you of any issues that need to be corrected.
In short… think small!
Get Google to Assess Your Optimisation
The problem with simply assessing optimization on your own is that it is wildly unscientific. You need to find out how Google ‘sees’ your site in its mobile form to make sure that the changes you make are as effective as possible.
Luckily, the good people at Google have created a tool that will do just that… and it only takes a few seconds. Pop yourself over to Google’s own ‘Mobile Usability Tool’ within their ‘Developers’ platform, which will instantly allow you to run a report showing how user-friendly your site / individual pages currently are in the eyes of the search engine. Simply copy and paste any web address into the box provided for a detailed report. It couldn’t be simpler, and you don't even need to have your site registered with Google analytics to do it.
The other great thing about this tool is that aside from giving you a percentage point on how well optimized your site is, it also provides some advice on things which you can do to increase the score.
Beyond this Google have a really useful Mobile Guide that will talk you through some of the things you can do to improve the situation further, and teach you ways to ensure that you are implementing practices which will constantly improve your mobile SEO.
Don’t be put off by how technical this sounds however, as the guide cleverly assess your ability continuously and explains processes in terms which anyone can understand regardless of technical knowledge.
Hopefully this has helped to clarify a few things and will encourage you to assess how well optimised for mobile browsing your website is.
Next week we will be bringing you some simple ‘how to’ guides for improving your mobile SEO.