Mobile Friendliness Now a Google Ranking Signal

phone-cross-eyedThey’ve been warning us for a while, but Google have finally announced that mobile-friendliness will be added as a ranking signal next month:

“Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results”

The fact they use the word *significant* is, well, significant. You don’t often see them give algorithm tweak announcements this kind of adjective emphasis. Normally, they’ll use vague phrases like “potential impact” or “quality improvements” or “Matt Cutts suggests”. So you can be sure that the forthcoming changes are going to be the source of panic attacks in webmasters the world over and late night Skypes for SEOs everywhere (yeah, thanks a lot Google).

Meanwhile, responsive WordPress theme designers will be rubbing their beards with glee at the prospect and adding more Threadless t-shirts to their wishlist.

So let’s assume for a moment that you have spent the last two years watching LOL cat videos on Facebook instead of making your website mobile friendly. Let’s also assume that your site has a scarlet letter displayed across it in the SERPs instead of the wanky desirable mobile-friendly banner issued by Google.

What can you do now to ward off the Google ranking oblivion heading your way? In the words of Douglas Adams: DON’T PANIC.

Here’s a check list to start with:

  • Log out of Facebook. I mean it.
  • View your site on various mobile devices and try not to cry.
  • Don’t have multiple devices? That’s ok, QuirkTools have just the tool for you.
  • Check your site against Google’s mobile friendly test tool.
  • Pull yourself out of the foetal position and take a deep breath. You can fix this!
  • If your site is built on a popular CMS, Google will likely have a technical guide on their Developers site that can help guide you and/or your designer make your site more mobile friendly. For example, check out Google’s Technical Guide for WordPress users.
  • Browse the theme library of your CMS for a recent responsive design / mobile friendly theme that doesn’t make your wallet flinch or make you want to gouge your eyes out. This is a lot trickier than it sounds.
  • Log out of Facebook dammit!
  • Back up your current site and related database/s.
  • Make sure you choose a theme that uses largish font that can be viewed easily on the smallest of iPhones. You know, for those of us who can’t afford a iPhone 6.
  • Check all your favorite plugins to make sure they are mobile-friendly. You’d be surprised how many of them look great in IE 10 but entirely screw up how your site appears in Safari. Uninstall or replace those with plugins that don’t impact your site’s appearance.
  • Set your mobile viewport. Yeah, I’ve got no idea what this means either.
  • Make sure that your text links are separated by at least one line of text between each. Being too close together make them difficult to click on with a mobile device.
  • Underline your links and highlight them using a different color to your main text. But please don’t use hipster grey. That’s just the color of sadness.
  • If you’ve verified your site in Google Webmaster Tools (of course you have!), you can check your site’s Page Speed using the Page Speed Insights tool. Or you can use Google’s stand-alone version.
  • Make any page speed tweaks suggested by Google.
  • In my experience, your site should now look mostly normal across various devices, apart from a glitch that shoves your header 5cm to the right on Google Chrome for Android no matter what the heck you try. Thankfully no-one uses that browser.
  • Check your site against Google’s mobile friendly test tool again.
  • Repeat, Rinse, Repeat until you can live with the outcome of the test.
  • Log back into Facebook. Cute cat videos await!

 

Spread the joy!

Q and A: Is it ok to target very specific keywords for SEO purposes?

QuestionHello Kalena

Just doing keyword research on a site [URL removed] and I have two questions:

1.  There is no option to add any text on the homepage.  The site is built on bigcommerce platform, which I can imagine quite a few sites are on this type of platform now.  To optimise it, do I just use the product pages that do allow text?

2.  The keywords I chose are all searched less than 10 times per month, but I cannot see how I can use any other keyword.  The product is obviously not a very highly searched for product, but is so specific, that I cannot use general keywords like “baby changing table”.   What do you suggest here?

thanks
Steph

————————————–

Hi Steph

You don’t make it clear whether this is a client site of yours or your own site.

1) I’m not familiar with the ecommerce platform you mention, but if this was my client, I’d be encouraging them to ditch it and start again with a more SEO-friendly ecommerce platform, or even a WordPress site with an ecommerce plugin.

Any CMS (Content Management System) that doesn’t allow you to add or edit text to pages, especially the home page, is going to restrict the ROI of a business.

If your client is unwilling to embrace recommendations to start over, you can only work with what you’ve got. So use our free SEO lessons and the advice in this blog to optimise what you can (product pages, meta tags, title tags, alt img tags, filenames etc.)

2) When it comes to keyword research, having a niche market is actually a positive thing. You’re generally not competing with a huge number of other sites, so when you target more specific keyword phrases, you have less competition from other websites trying to optimise for the same keywords. Don’t be afraid of targeting very specific keywords and phrases, provided they accurately describe the product. Sure, you may get less traffic by optimising for specific keywords, but the traffic you DO get will be highly qualified and more likely to convert.

Also think about whether you can optimise for location-based qualifying keywords. For example, does the company export their products outside New Zealand? If not, then it might make sense to target phrases like “baby change tables New Zealand”. Is their product of higher quality than other products? Then use *high quality* in your target phrases and web site text.

Ask your colleagues, family and friends how they would search for the products and add these phrases to your keyword seed list for targeting purposes. Run a short term AdWords campaign and look closely at the number of impressions each keyword you bid on receives. This will give you a more accurate estimate of how many times the keyword is searched in your target market and help you narrow down your selection.

Hope this helps!

——————————————————————–

Like to get geeky and teach yourself SEO? Access your Free SEO Lessons

 

Spread the joy!

Q and A: Should I source backlinks from a link merchant?

QuestionHi Kalena

I’m working through the link building course at Search Engine College, but I’m a tad unsure where to source links for my website. I know I can get them from industry related websites, but think this might be a slow process. Is it therefore deemed appropriate for me to source links from a service such as linksmanagement.com? If so, can you please answer the following questions:

1. How many links should I acquire on a weekly/monthly basis?

2. Can I focus on 1 page of my website at a time when building links, or should I spread them evenly on various pages of my website say 3-4 pages at a time?

3. Should link building be an ongoing process, or can I stop when I’ve achieved the ranking I desire….and we all know what position that is! :-)

If linksmanagement.com is not a source you would recommend me to use, can you recommend another please?

Kind Regards
Alistair

————————————–

Hi Alistair

Links should be acquired organically – at a moderate pace. I recommend adding no more than five new links a week to a site. Sites that acquire large blocks of links in a short space of time are more likely to attract attention from Google’s anti-spam team.

Whatever you do, DO NOT use a link selling site such as LinksManagement to buy backlinks. Links must be earned, not bought. The selling or purchasing of backlinks is in direct violation of the Google Webmaster Guidelines and could earn your site a ranking penalty or removal from Google’s index altogether.

Instead, I recommend that you use Raven Tools or another all-in-one SEO tool-kit with which to manage your link building efforts. These suites of tools generally enable you to research, find, contact and track link partners all in the one location. Raven’s link research tools in particular are brilliant for finding potential link opportunities and keeping track of who has linked to you.

We are still editing the remainder of the Link Building course, so you’ll probably find that (when published) the remaining lessons will answer your questions. But in the meantime, can I suggest that you review the Link Building lessons within the SEO101 and SEO201 courses? Also look at the recommended reading and resources for those lessons. They contain a wealth of information about link building.

Finally, take a look through my previous blog posts about link building as they should give you some inspiration about where to find new link partners.

Hope this helps!

——————————————————————–

Like to learn more about SEO and link building methods? Access your Free SEO Lessons. No catch!

 

Spread the joy!

Happy New Year!

Raro1 Raro2Hi everyone!

Can you believe we’re already in our second month of 2015? It seems like Xmas was just last week.

Apologies for the blog silence, but I’ve been taking a well-earned break to rest and recover from a difficult year. I managed to sneak away for my first holiday in three years and my son and I spent 8 glorious days in tropical Rarotonga in the Cook Islands (check out the photos). If ever you get a chance to visit islands in the Pacific, I highly recommend it.

I’ll be spending more time focusing on my role at Search Engine College this year, as well as producing training courses at Udemy and running digital marketing training workshops around New Zealand for the IITP. I’ve also scored a bit of consulting work in the field of online education, so 2015 is going to be full of challenges!Raro4

With such a hectic schedule, I won’t be able to post here as much and – sadly – I won’t be reprising my Fast Five in Search series this year. But I will be answering as many Q and A’s as I can, so please do keep sending in your tricky questions about search engines and I’ll do my best to publish my answers here.

Wishing you all a safe and memorable 2015.

Spread the joy!

Fast Five in Search – Week 52, 2014

fast-five

 

Well, it’s hard to believe 2014 is nearly done and dusted. It’s even harder to believe that I managed to publish a new Fast Five post every single week of the year!

Sometimes blogging comes easy and sometimes life gets in the way, but I’m proud to have made it through the whole year without a missed post. Thanks for keeping me company along the way and I hope you found the series enlightening.

Given the emphasis on shopping during the festive season, my final Fast Five for 2014 feature articles and blog posts about e-commerce and online shopping trends this year.

Here’s this week’s Fast Five:

1) Special Report: Will People Ever Buy Through Social Media? by Martin Beck via Marketing Land. This post looks at how social channels are starting to monetize using methods other than sponsorship and advertising. While Twitter and Facebook are testing Buy Now buttons in-feed, Pinterest and Instagram are showing unexpected potential as motivating direct purchases as well.

2) Amazon’s 2014 Holiday Sees Mobile Shopping Approach 60% Of Total Volume by Darrell Etherington via TechCrunch. In their annual holiday sales performance review, online etailer Amazon revealed that 60 percent of their shopper activity came from mobile platforms, including dedicated apps and mobile websites. That’s a staggering figure and something that should make any etailer rethink their mobile marketing strategy, pronto.

3) Why People Buy Things Online by Eric Siu via HubSpot. You’re going to want to bookmark this one, trust me. I love fresh Internet statistics and this post is a collated collection of statistics gleaned from the latest reports undertaken about our online purchasing trends. For example, did you know that free shipping is the second highest factor influencing purchasing decisions on Internet retailer sites behind product quality?

4) Is Social Media Very Good for E-commerce Conversions? by Chris Crum via WebProNews. Another post looking at the monetary value of social media marketing and how it contributes to online conversions. This article concludes that social media marketing efforts only account for about 1.2% of total site conversions on average.

and finally…

5) E-commerce: Metrics That Matter by Kristin Wilston via SiteProNews. A brief post that serves as a reminder that if you run a e-commerce site, you need to track consumer behavior on your site. Kristin provides some examples of the most important metrics you should be tracking to help understand your customers and guide them towards conversion.

That’s it for 2014 folks and this will be my final Fast Five post for the time being. Have a safe and happy New Year’s Eve and I’ll catch you all in 2015/.

*Image courtesy of Threadless.

——————————————————————–

Need to learn digital marketing but not sure where to start? Access your Free Lessons Online. No catch!

 

Spread the joy!