20 Apr WHAT GOOGLE’S APRIL SEO UPDATE WILL TEACH YOU ABOUT BUSINESS
Google is set to make one of their most significant SEO updates of all time tomorrow.
I’m not calling it significant—they are. Put simply, it’s significant because they are cracking down hard on any company who does not have a well thought out mobile friendly version of their website.
Even more so, Google typically doesn’t announce ahead of time what they are actually changing, but this time they decided to give everyone fair warning.
A responsive version of your site is Google’s recommended way of handling mobile, rather than a dedicated mobile site for example. But, even though you may believe that your site is “responsive” because that is what your web designer or developer told you, or just because you can load it on your iPhone and it looks ok to you, that doesn’t mean that it will make the g with Google.
Google is checking many factors of the “responsiveness”. One of the common problems we are seeing is that even though a site may appear responsive, Google still has a problem with the size of the tap targets (links, buttons…) on the screen. They even have it down to the point of wanting them to be the right size for a typical finger—10mm that is!
Why is Google doing this? The answer is simple: they want to protect their user’s experience.
Think about it from their perspective, as if Google was your startup and you wanted to make the best experience possible for your users. If someone is searching for a solution to their problem on their phone, and you serve up a link to a website that isn’t streamlined for their experience, do you think your user would be happy about that? Of course not, and furthermore, even though you don’t control that site, the user will assign a little bit of a “that sucked” value to you.
Google obviously has been very patient with this change. You would think that any company who is relying on SEO in any way for their lead generation would have done the right thing and built out a responsive site by now. But, the truth is that just hasn’t happened. Now, if you’ve built a new site recently, you might already be set up. However, we’ve already seen newer site’s that still don’t make the cut. I’ll tell you how to check that out in a minute.
But first, what can this teach you about business in general?
Here’s the thing, many startups end up putting “all their eggs in one basket” in many different ways. One way is making your startup dependent on one source of traffic alone. Maybe you get traction from one source and it’s enough to start building your company so you switch focus to the million other things you have to do while building a company.
The problem though is that your new startup will start getting yanked around by the powers that be. For many years, my software firm grew purely by our efforts with organic SEO. However, one day Google decided to make their results much friendlier for local search. Within a couple months, our total lead volume dropped significantly, and while we had plenty of projects in the works, we could tell that before long we would be hurting.
That set us into panic mode, and taught me a very important lesson the way that one never forgets (you know, like how are you going to feed your family when you’re living in a box? Yes, you tend to not forget lessons like that.)
If you think this is restricted to Google, think again. Recently Facebook changed many of their rules, which put the hurt on many businesses. So, what do you do about this? Simple, don’t put all your eggs in one basket!
Specifically, regarding Google’s April SEO update, here’s what you need to do:
- First, go test your site on Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test site. Here’s the link: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/
This will give you some quick feedback on whether you might have a problem or not. You’ll need to test all of your main ranking pages though, not just your home page. If it shows that you have problems, then you know for sure you need to scramble.
However, if it shows that your page is mobile-friendly, you might still not be out of trouble. I’ve seen a lot of talk about how this version of their test tool doesn’t exactly match the tool that they use to actually determine the ranking. So, we’ll see how that plays out in the coming weeks. If you have a site that’s highly dependent on organic mobile SEO traffic, then you might want to consider having someone check your site out to be sure.
- The next step, to get even deeper on it, is to test your site with Google’s PageSpeed Insights. Here’s the link: https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/
This tool runs a much more in-depth test of your site. It also tests the loading speed of your pages and content. If you’re hosting your site on one of the cheap hosting providers, then you’ll likely get a nasty surprise here due to the poor speed (no, it’s not really unlimited). You’ll also get a page full of other technical details that will probably scare you into a corner. But, at least you have a tech co-founder to help deal with that issue right?