Mobile-friendly sites get priority
MOUNTAINVIEW, CA—A potential digital tsunami is about to hit the Internet, according to local web experts, as the dominant search engine Google is implementing a major revision to its search algorithm that has been alternately labeled by the net community as ‘mobilegeddon’ or ‘mobilefestivus,’ depending largely on where you stand with website optimization.
The use of mobile devices, smart phones or tablets (but not laptops) has been growing exponentially, with the majority of web surfers now using those devices to access information and this move by Google is an attempt to make those searches more relevant to those searching the Internet.
“Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal,” reads a statement from the corporation. “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.”
“An algorithm is basically a combination of factors that is included in your SEO (search engine optimization), the keywords you associate with your site, site speed, your layout style, the frequency of your posts, along with umpteen other factors,” said Dave Patterson, The Expositor’s national award winning webmaster and designer.
Mr. Patterson noted that the change has the potential for significant impact on local resort and business owners, particularly those who have had their sites designed and think their work is done. “Before, you typed Manitoulin into the Google search engine, sites like ours (manitoulin.ca) and manitoulin-island.com would come up near the top of the results,” he said. “Now, the search is more niche oriented and being mobile friendly will play a big part in where you appear in the lists that pop up.”
Anyone familiar with how those searches are then accessed realizes that being several pages down on the list will mean that most people will never look that far. In the past prior to changes in Google algorithms, littering your blog post or website material with the word Manitoulin would ensure you would come up high on the rankings, but now, relevance and mobile optimization will play a far greater role—especially in reaching the audience who is looking for your product or service he noted.
“About five years ago, when we first went into the web in a big way, about five percent of those accessing our site were doing so from their mobile devices, now it is closer to 60 percent,” said Mr. Patterson, noting that most of that growth took place in the last couple of years. “Can you imagine what it will be like five years from now? Everyone is going mobile.”
Since most travellers now research and plan their routes and destinations on the Internet, having a strong and well-placed ranking will grow in importance in tandem with those trends.
“If you are not fully mobile, your rankings will drop,” he cautioned.
The solution on the face of it is plain and simple, according to Mr. Patterson. “Fix your website.”
He suggests that those with products or services to sell “pick a niche and focus your efforts on providing that niche with up-to-date photos, articles and video that will be meaningful to that niche.” Don’t count on simply including the word Manitoulin in your material to put you high up on the rankings.
Once you have implemented the changes, test those changes to see how they are impacting your site.
“Google searches sites on the Internet thousands of times a day,” said Mr. Patterson. He reaches over to his mouse and clicks onto Google’s webmaster tools. “Today (late afternoon), Google has searched our site content 3,600 times. Some days it is as high as 4,700 times.”
Getting a professional to prepare your site may be expensive, but the payoff will be far greater if someone who is very familiar with the inner workings of the Internet and search engines, particularly mobile optimization, does the work. “It isn’t the realm of amateurs anymore,” he said. “Like everything else in business and life, you get what you pay for.”
Even if you had your site prepared recently, it may not be truly mobile friendly or optimized. “Things change very quickly on the Internet and you have to stay on top of developments.”
Thanks to Webmaster Patterson, Manitoulin Publishing’s many online sites are well up to snuff with mobile optimization. That includes the newly launched buy and sell site manitoulinmall.com and our tourism lure magazine thisismanitoulin.com as well as our flagship news site, manitoulin.ca.