#3D: This is no #AprilsFool — are you ready for Google’s imminent algorithm update?
by Prakash Patel (@prakashpatel_1) On 21 April 2015, Google will launch its most important update to its mobile algorithm, which will have a significant impact on mobile search results as quoted by Google’s Zineb Ait Bahajji at SMX Munich on the morning of 17 March.
So what does this mean in laymen terms?
If you have a mobisite (if not, make it your priority above all other marketing activity today and don’t tell your shareholders), you need to ensure it is mobile-friendly to rank better in any mobile search.
What this basically means is that Google’s mobile ranking factors will not only label your site as mobile-friendly but will also use that to determine if your site should rank higher in its search results.
Search label was launched in November 2014, where Google added a text label under the URL in the snippet that’s reads “mobile friendly”. By the way, you will be surprised to see how many digital agencies, let alone brand sites, are NOT mobile-friendly, based upon Google’s Label. If you want to test how mobile-friendly your mobisite is free of charge, check here.
Getting rewarded for mobile searches only!
Anyway, this update is set to improve rankings for sites that provide a mobile-friendly experience to searchers on mobile devices, eg, searches from either smartphones and/or tablets — not searches conducted from your desktops (PCs or laptops).
Google also said “users will find it easier to get relevant, high-quality search results that are optimized for their devices.”
So that’s good news from a mobile-user perspective and demonstrates the continued roll out of Google’s long-term vision for better mobile-user and -search experience (as it should be). We all know how frustrating it can be when carrying out searches on mobile phones, only to land on a page where you can’t click on a link without zooming in (another way Google determines your search label ranking).
Mobile apps that Google indexes to rank better in mobile search
Also, Google further said that, starting right now, apps that are indexed by Google through App Indexing will begin to rank better in mobile search. Google said this only will work for signed-in users who have the app installed on their mobile devices, which means only Android apps today.
So why should you care (even more)?
Inadvertently, these changes will affect South Africa more! Why? Because, as you know, South Africa is a mobile-first country — not PC-first.
And smartphone penetration is growing rapidly. Statistic quoted by Arthur Goldstuck is highlighting that SA, in 2015, is already reaching close to 23.5m smartphones — that’s almost five times the number of smartphones of 2010, compounded by almost 50% of all searches being from a mobile device and growing to a predicted 60% in 2015.
Agencies put so much effort to ensure websites are built to be search-friendly and -optimied, but do not (or do not know how to) ensure we build user- and search-friendly mobile sites. It’s an effort that will help you reap instant rewards — acknowledged by Google.
So, let’s get started
Here’s a quick tip list from Google to get you started or thinking mobile-friendly first . You also need to ensure that you understand how your users access your site and, in particular, where they come from (ie which device: computer or mobile?).
If it’s mainly through desktop, then the impact of the new algorithm may initially be minimal upon your site’s ranking — but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t build or have a user- and search-friendly mobisite.
However, if there is significant mobile or tablet use, then you may need to act quickly. In fact, get to work on it now as 21 April is just around the corner and Google’s clock is ticking… Tick tock tick tock… and I am sure you don’t want to be anyone’s #fool.
Prakash Patel (@prakashpatel_1) is chief strategy officer at Fogg Experiential Design, a digital and experiential agency based in Johannesburg and Cape Town that believes in the power of creative ideas and the technical magic that brings them to life.
He has over 25 years of experience in advertising, digital and data planning, a passion for integrated marketing strategies, and believes that the holy grail of marketing has always been — and always will be — data. Prakash contributes the monthly “#3D” (Data-Driven & Digital) column to MarkLives.com, exploring how data-driven and digital marketing can add value to marketing communication.
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