Google’s Recent Mobile Update – Was Your Website Affected?

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On April 21, 2015, the dreaded “Mobilegeddon” Google algorithm update took effect. The update in and of itself has so far not been as catastrophic as many persons had predicted, but it is still in your best interest to make your website as mobile-friendly as possible. This is because Google has placed a lot more value on user experience, even more so now for mobile users who account for 90% of the search traffic generated on Google. One SEO expert stated that Google wants its users to have a good experience, so if your website provides that kind of user experience, the updates that Google releases should not cause you to start worrying. It has been noted that about one-third of persons who use mobile devices decide not to continue their purchase on websites that are not optimized for their devices. That is lost revenue that will never be recovered. If your website provides a good user experience for mobile users, you can be sure that nearly 50% of them will prefer to view your website, instead of your competitor’s website which may not be mobile-friendly.

With all that being said, the next thing you may be wondering is if your website was affected by the recent algorithm update. Finding out whether or not it was affected is much easier than you may imagine since Google has provided a guide for you to follow to check your website’s mobile-friendliness. There are three critical steps involved in the process. They are as follows:

Check to Ensure Your Website is Search Engine Optimized for Mobile Devices

It makes no sense having a website that you spent countless time and money on when in the end it cannot be found by mobile users, whether or not it is mobile-friendly. That is why it is important that you check to ensure that your website can be properly identified and serve mobile content by Google. Begin by validating your website with the mobile friendliness tool that Google has released at This tool gives you an idea of whether or not Google can easily crawl your CSS, JavaScript, images, and other site-critical resources. In addition, the mobile usability report that can be found in Google Webmaster Tools will advise you of any issues mobile users may face when they try to access your website. Some of the issues may include improper content sizing and the use of Flash on the website.

Google Webmaster Tools Crawl Error reports can also be used to identify issues that mobile device users may also face or are already facing. To check whether or not that is the case, click on the Smartphone tab and check for the following:

  • Pages that return 404 errors
  • Whether or not important parts of your website are being correctly crawled and indexed, and if any of your content is being blocked
  • Sitemaps and pages from which the errors are linked to

Once you have done your checks, find the offending crawling issue sources and fix them. Blocked pages should be unblocked. In addition, if you have removed pages and other content from your website, i.e. they no longer exist, check all your internal links to make sure that you no longer link to those pages.

Another great tool within Google Webmaster Tools that you can use to check your website’s mobile-friendliness is the Fetch as Google feature. Select the Mobile Smartphone option to see how your pages are seen by Google’s smartphone crawler and check for the following:

  • Accessibility of the content on your website
  • Whether or not the correct version of your website is being accessed or if redirects to irrelevant pages are taking place
  • Pages on your website are set up correctly
  • SEO elements like meta description, keywords, and title are being properly crawled

The speed of your website is yet another important part of optimizing your website for mobile devices. Sites that load slowly are quickly left by mobile users, while sites that load faster enjoy a better time on site and lower bounce rates. Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool will help you to identify any issues related to the speed at which the pages on your website load. The Speed Suggestions report, with the mobile advanced segment, of Google Analytics can also be used to locate page load speed issues on pages that have the most pageviews from mobile devices. Based on that report, you can optimize the page speed for those pages so that visitors to those pages will always have the best user experience.

Check Your Website’s Visibility on Mobile Devices and Traffic Behavior

Building-Mobile-Web-AppsIt is very easy to figure out if the pages on your website are visible to mobile devices along with how traffic to your website behaves. Go into Google Webmaster Tools and access the Search Queries Report, using the Mobile filter, and check the following:

  • Is there a difference between the top pages and queries in desktop and mobile search?
  • Are the rankings of and traffic to your website increasing or decreasing for certain pages and search queries?
  • Are there queries that have large Click Through Ratios (CTRs) even though they do not hold the top search positions?
  • Are there queries that have small CTRs even though they hold the top search positions?
  • Is there any similarity in how desktop users vs. mobile device users search for identical information on your website?

When you answer those questions, you will be in a better position to analyze your website and make the changes that are necessary to keep it visible to mobile users. Once you get that out of the way, you will see significant improvement in the traffic to your website.

Another way in which you can analyze your mobile traffic is by using the mobile organic advanced segment in Google Analytics. The report that is generated will allow you to see the pages on your website that have low conversion and high bounce rates, the top pages that are accessed by mobile organic traffic, and whether or not the behavior of mobile device users mimics that of desktop traffic to those pages. Using that information, see how the pages that have the most mobile pageviews and most mobile search results visibility are viewed on the most popular mobile devices used by your visitors using Chrome’s Developers Tools Device Mode to emulate them. Also search the mobile search results visibility for the top queries to assess how well your pages do in mobile search results. Make a determination of who are competing with you for the same mobile search results.

Keep a Constant Eye on Your Performance and Become More Mobile-Search Competitive

local-seoMany websites are able to stay on top of search rankings based on the keywords that they use. If you want your website to rank as well as your competitors do, you need to use the same keywords that they use as well as to identify other keywords that can help to boost your ranking. Tools like SearchMetrics and SEMrush can help you to identify the keywords that your competitors use. Based on the results you get, create a master list of the keywords. Then categorize the keywords and use Google Keyword Planner to research the keywords. Google Keyword Planner helps you to filter out the keywords that have the greatest potential of helping your website rank better because it suggests new keywords and shows you the trends in mobile search volume over time. After you have established the keywords you want to use, keep a constant eye on their performance and make note of how well they are doing in search results using mobile rank tracking tools that can give insight into how well the pages on your website vs. your competitors pages are ranking for the same keywords. If you locate any discrepancies with the results, try to identify why they exist and fix them quickly. You can be automatically notified of an increase or decrease in mobile organic traffic by setting a custom alert in Google Analytics. By so doing, you will be able to fix issues that arise in a timelier manner.

After reviewing the three critical steps mentioned above, you should now be in a better position to know whether or not your website was affected by Google’s algorithm update. Even though less than 5% of websites were made mobile-friendly before the update, the vast majority have seen no substantive change in their rankings. Despite that, however, making your website mobile-friendly is a good investment that will pay off in the long run, seeing that the vast majority of organic traffic now comes from mobile devices.

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