From 21st April, Google has expanded it's use of mobile friendliness as a ranking signal. This means that the more mobile-friendly your site is, the more likely it is to appear higher in the search engine rankings.
According to the BBC, SEO specialists are seeing this as the biggest change since the Panda update which saw top ranking websites on page one slip much further down the SERPs.
We've known for sometime that Smartphone penetration and visits to websites from Smartphones have been rapidly increasing. But does everyone need to worry about the latest Google update? Here we guide you through some key analytic stats you should be looking at to see how you've been affected.
How much of your traffic comes from mobile devices?
From Google's own advice to webmasters we read that the change will mainly affect searches from mobile devices. It isn't clear to what degree the same applies to those searching from a PC. You may therefore assume that if your organisation receives a large proportion web traffic from mobile phones that you should be the most concerned. You can find this information in Google Analytics under Audience > Mobile.
Being a B2B organisation, just over 20% of our traffic comes from mobile devices. However, we are anticipating that this will only grow as device ownership trends change, and so we've made sure that we were ready for those trends. Remember that it's not just a case of where you appear in the Search Engine Rank Pages, but also it's a matter of user experience. You really don't want your mobile device visitors to strain their eyesight or have to pinch the screen to expand and contract the view. The experience should be made easy for them by implementing a responsive design that adapts to whatever device your visitor is using.
How have your Acquisition Sources changed?
Under Acquisition>Overview you can see the sources of traffic to your website. You are looking for what percentage of your traffic comes from organic search. Organic search represents 27% of our traffic - it's our second biggest source. So of course, we look at this regularly to spot trends. Have a look not just at what proportion comes from organic search, but also whether that trend is rising or falling, particularly since the 21st April algorithm change.
Dig Deeper into your Search Engine Queries
If you have Webmaster tools switched on go to Acqusition>Search Engine Optimisation>Queries and explore the detail. You should be looking for a number of things.
- What is the trend in the number of impressions? This is the number of times you have appeared in the Search Engine Results Pages over the period you are looking at.
- What is your average position? This tells you the position you appear in the SERPS, for example numbers 1-10 mean you are appearing on the first page.
Early indications are that our number of impressions has improved, as has our average position. However, you will need to continue to look at this over the coming weeks. Many things can change your rankings and traffic, not least of which will be your competitors' actions. So you need to look at trends over a period of time, rather than overly worrying or patting yourself on the back just yet.
Check Out Your Competitors
The speed at which you become mobile friendly may to some degree depend on the industry you are in and who your competitors are. Being in the digital marketing industry, it would be embarrassing if we weren't mobile friendly. So we're relieved that the Google Mobile Friendly Test classifies the Commsbox website as "Awesome". We also had a nice little moment when we found a major competitor that was not mobile ready. Run your competitors' websites through the same tool - it only takes a few seconds - and see whether your are behind them or in front on this key SEO criteria.
If It's All Looking Good - Keep Looking
Don't just have a look today, keep looking, keep analysing. Be aware of what your customers are doing and how your traffic is changing as a result. As the Google algorithm rolls-out you may also find the situation changes over the coming weeks. Our friends over at SmartInsights have produced a great 3 Step guide on how to set up a Custom Segment to track smartphone traffice from search engines.
If You Get a Shock Because You Traffic Dips - Don't Worry
If you look at the Google Mobile Friendly test and find yourself coming up short, or if your traffic suddenly drops off, don't worry. Get in touch and see how we can help you get mobile ready. Not only can we help you with redesign, and implementation of a responsive site, we can also talk you through how to integrate your site with responsive content management, marketing automation, customer journey tracking, email marketing, blogging and SEO. See it as an opportunity to review your digital marketing strategy and update your customers' online experience.