In an effort to continue delivering the most relevant search results in a landscape increasingly dominated by mobile devices, Google will start punishing websites that are not mobile-friendly by lowering their rankings within the search index. The new development is expected to become official next month.
For search engine marketers, the new algorithm update is hardly a surprise. Google has hinted that they would eventually reward mobile-friendly experiences since November of last year, though more cryptic messaging from the company was published as early as June 2013. The latest announcement is simply further proof that non-mobile-friendly sites are in their last days. It also has the benefit of a definitive extinction date, a somewhat unprecedented move from a company that usually waits until the eleventh hour to inform the public of algorithm updates.
According to the announcement, “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.”
Is Your Site Ready for the Change?
The use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal is an important development that should not be taken lightly. Google has made it clear that all business websites, including those for apartment management companies and their affiliated properties, must adopt a mobile-friendly approach if they want to stand a chance at ranking in the search index. But if you’re not an SEO specialist or web developer, how do you go about determining whether or not your site is mobile-friendly?
The most obvious way to test your site’s mobile-friendliness is to simply visit your URL via a browser within your smartphone. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the way your iPhone displays a website may be different from the way a colleague’s Galaxy displays that same website. And the issue becomes even more complicated when we account for multiple browsers and different device-types, like tablets.
Fortunately, Google has saved us from the headache of testing our sites on multiple devices and browsers through a simple tool which analyzes mobile-friendliness almost instantaneously. We encourage you to check it out if you want to calculate your mobile-friendliness in the quickest and simplest way possible.
What Should You Do If Your Site Fails the Test?
In the event your site fails the mobile-friendly test, it’s important you do all you can to apply updates before the April 21 deadline. If you have an in-house development team, ensure that they’ve added meta tags for viewports and that they have styled all CSS files with media queries for different device sizes. We recommend following Google’s documentation on doing so, which can be found here.
Of course, if your apartment management company’s marketing team doesn’t have any in-house developers, you can always speak to a Respage representative to see how our web services can help.