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On April 21st, 2015, Google will roll out an update that will make mobile friendliness a bigger part of its algorithm. If you don’t think this is a big deal, think again.
Why? Because Google is saying the mobile update will have a bigger impact than its Panda update.
Should you be worried? Yes!
Here’s why, and here are some ways to take full advantage of this update.
Step #1: Make your website responsive
It’s generally not the best idea to create a separate website just for mobile visitors. The main reason you will want to avoid this approach is because updates to your main site won’t appear on your mobile site.
With responsive design, this is no longer a concern. A responsive design will automatically adapt your site to the size of a person’s screen, including all mobile devices.
When you are creating a responsive design, make sure you read this blog post as it will teach you how to create one that converts well.
Step #2: Speed up your site
Although there are 4G cellular networks, the Internet connection on your mobile device will never be as fast as a cable connection—at least not for the next year or two.
Also, since 4G signals aren’t everywhere, some people may be loading your website over a 3G connection.
For this reason, you need your site to load quickly. Keep in mind your entire site needs to adjust its size and layout, based on the device used to access the site.
So, how do you speed up your site? I could point you to a ton of resources like this one, but I recommend that you first start with Google PageSpeed. It’s Google’s own service that helps make sites faster.
If you don’t believe that site speed is important, check out this infographic that breaks down how slow site speed affects Google’s rankings. If you’re still not convinced, you can read a case study I wrote years ago on how I doubled my traffic by cleaning up my code and speeding up my site.
Here are some tips for improving site speed:
- Content delivery network – your hosting company should have this feature. Call them to get it enabled. It puts your site on servers all over the world so that your site loads faster.
- Fast server – pick a good hosting provider like RackSpace or WPengine. This makes the world of difference when it comes to site speed.
- Clean up your code – hiring a good developer is well worth it as it will make your code cleaner. Messy code usually means a slower site.
Step #3: Make these changes in the next 7 days
Although Google’s update is rolling out on April 21st, you can’t expect to make these changes on April 20th and be fine.
Why? Because Google has to crawl and index your changes, which takes time. To be safe, you should make these changes at least a few weeks before the April 21st deadline. This will ensure that your site gets crawled with these changes already in place so that you aren’t penalized. Most importantly, your search traffic should go up as a result.
Once you make the changes, log into Google Webmaster Tools and select your website profile (or add a profile for your site if you haven’t already).
Once you do that, click “Crawl” in the sidebar, then click on “Fetch as Google.”
Your URL should already be there, but you can also enter subdirectories. But before you click “fetch and render,” select the drop-down menu that says “Desktop,” and select the relevant mobile option (if you are unsure, you can select all of them—one by one).
Once you do that, you want to click on the “submit to index” button. This will ensure that your website gets crawled with your changes before the update.
Your time is limited. The sooner you make your website compatible with mobile devices and the sooner you reduce your load time, the higher your probability of gaining traffic during Google’s next update will be.
What do you think is going to happen to most sites during the next Google update?