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!


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Fast Five in Search – Week 43, 2014



The year is fast coming to an end and it seems like the big online brands are all rushing to launch products or services before 2014 wraps up. So today we have a mixed bag of brand announcements, as well as some interesting trends in mobile advertising.

Here’s this week’s Fast Five:

1) Google Penguin 3.0: Worldwide Rollout Still in Process, Impacting 1% of English Queries by Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Land. Google is in the process of rolling out their latest iteration of the Penguin algorithm update. In this post, Barry looks at what’s been tweaked, when it rolled out and who has been affected so far.

2) Mobile Ad Revenues Soar as Search and Directories Flatten Out by Emily Alford of Search Engine Watch. In 2014, mobile revenues increased by a whopping 76 percent from $3 billion to $5.3 billion from the $3 billion reported at half-year 2013. $2.7 billion came from mobile search, while $2.5 billion came from mobile display. Emily looks at reasons for the incredible performance and areas of overlap with other advertising revenue.

3) Facebook Launches “Pseudonymous” App Rooms That Lets You Create Forums About Any Topic by Josh Constine of TechCrunch. Facebook has launched a new mobile app that has everyone talking. Called *Rooms*, the app lets you set up a mobile-only discussion space about any topic.

4) Mobile Search Ranking Study: Rank Number One or Not Rank at All by Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Land. A new study from seoClarity finds that if you do not rank in the number one position in the mobile search results, the click-through rate drops off significantly, so much so, that ranking number barely matters.

and finally…

5) Universal Event Tracking: A New and Improved Way to Track Your Sites’ Activities in Bing Ads by Nishant Gupta of Bing Ads. Bing Ads has introduced Universal Event Tracking (UET) to advertisers worldwide. UET allows advertisers to define and track performance and conversion goals important for their business. This is the official launch announcement from Bing Ads.

Happy reading!

*Image courtesy of Threadless.


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Fast Five in Search – Week 39, 2014



So it’s already Fast Five time again. This week is pretty much all about mobile marketing, with a sprinkling of Google and Facebook into the mix.

Here’s this week’s Fast Five:

1) More People Accessing Internet Via Mobile Devices by SiteProNews. Experts had predicted a massive upswing in mobile Internet usage with the birth of the iPhone and iPad, but the rate of growth has taken everyone by surprise.

2) How Responsive Web Design Works by HubSpot. And while we’re on the subject of mobile devices, this cute Infographic published by HubSpot is a handy reference about responsive design and why you need it. If this doesn’t convince you to switch your site to a responsive design template, nothing will.

3) Everything Happening Right Now on the Internet by Digital Marketing Ramblings. Regardless of the misleading title, this graphic is quite an eye-opener. It’s actually a snapshot of the Internet in real time, showing you how quickly data is generated and accounts created on some of the web’s most popular sites including YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Google and Amazon.

4) Facebook Working on Private Sharing App by Mashable. With their privacy protocols consistently in the news for all the wrong reasons, Facebook is reportedly working on a new app designed to encourage private content sharing. Apparently, the app will provide users with a grid-style interface from which to share private moments with friends and family.

and finally…

5) Google+ Is No Longer a Requirement for Creating a Google Account by Marketing Land. Google’s unpopular decision in 2012 to make a Google Plus account a mandatory part of the Google account creation process appears to have come back to bite them. In response to demand, Google has dropped the requirement and now made Google+ account creation an optional choice when signing up for Gmail and other Google products.

Happy reading!

*Image courtesy of Threadless.


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Q and A: What are the upcoming changes to Google AdWords?

QuestionHi Kalena,

I’ve been hearing rumors that Google is about to roll out some major changes to AdWords. Do you know anything about this yet? I’m a bit nervous about it.



Hi Kylie

Google announced some major changes to AdWords today – the main one being Enhanced Campaigns.

Basically Enhanced Campaigns mean that advertisers can now present consistent ads to people via multiple devices in the right context within a single campaign, rather than setting up separate campaigns for mobile/tablet users.

The focus here seems to be Google’s way of increasing the adoption of mobile advertising.

I’m still getting my head around the new functionality and will post an indepth article here about it soon, but if you’re interested to learn more in the meantime, here is a round up of articles about it:

More soon!

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Google Launches Analytics App for Android

Attention Android fans, Google has just launched a Google Analytics App for Android-enabled mobile phones.

Google Analytics App for Android  is a mobile app that delivers essential analytics data to you anytime, anywhere, provided you have an Android-enabled phone. In a meeting and need traffic or sales figures quickly? No more having to wait until you can access your desktop PC to see important stats – with the Analytics App, they are all now at your fingertips.

You can see real time statistics, customizable dashboards and intelligence reports directly on your phone with the Google Analytics App. It allows you to access the same accounts and profiles you see when you open Analytics from a desktop browser, but the reports are delivered in an optimized format for your phone.

The following *swipe through* reports are available:

  •     Real-Time: See the number of visitors you currently have and a list of the pages (for websites) or screens (for apps) that are currently popular.
  •     Dashboard: Monitor the KPIs and user metrics you care about the most. By default, you’ll see your Daily Unique Visitors and your Goal Conversion Rate, but you can customize the dashboard to change which reports, metrics, or segments you see.
  •     Automatic and Customized Alerts: Google Analytics detects statistical anomalies in your data and can send you an alert when something unusual happens. See automatic alerts, or customize your settings to send alerts based on your own benchmarks.

The Google Analytics app is available from here and currently has an average user rating of 4 stars, based on over 400 reviews.

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