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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Firefox Swaps Google for Yahoo as Default Search Engine

Yahoo_Logo_PurpleIn an announcement today, Mozilla revealed that Yahoo has replaced Google as the default search engine for their browser Firefox.

The announcement took many of us in the search industry by surprise, especially as Google has been the default Firefox search engine since 2004.

The deal comes as part of a five year strategic partnership between Mozilla and Yahoo!, a clear tactical alliance given that Yahoo’s major competitors both own browsers that are stealing market share from Mozilla’s Firefox. Google’s Chrome has now ousted Firefox as the main competitor to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, leaving Firefox with less than 20 percent of the desktop browser market. And don’t even mention mobile device browsing.

According to Mozilla, their agreement with Google came up for renewal this year. With Chrome biting at their heels, they naturally took the opportunity to explore new options.

The partnership is a huge tactical victory for Yahoo and has clearly been in the pipeline for some months, evidenced by the gushing blog post from Yahoo’s CEO, Marissa Mayer:

“This is the most significant partnership for Yahoo in five years and we’re so proud that Mozilla has chosen us as their long-term partner in search. This partnership helps to expand our reach in search and gives us an opportunity to work even more closely with Mozilla to find ways to innovate in search, communications, and digital content. I’m also excited about the long-term framework we developed with Mozilla for future product integrations and expansion into international markets…

 

Our teams worked closely with Mozilla to build a clean, modern, and immersive search experience that will launch first to Firefox’s U.S. users in December and then to all Yahoo users in early 2015.”

It’s important to note that Yahoo will not be the default search engine in all countries, just the United States at this stage. In fact, Mozilla made it clear in today’s announcement that Firefox will no longer be promoting a single global default search provider, but are adopting a more local and flexible approach, with new and expanded search partnerships by country.

Firefox will come with 61 search providers pre-installed across 88 different language versions. Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, eBay, Amazon, Twitter and Wikipedia will continue to be built-in as alternate search options to Yahoo for US-based searchers.

The changes will roll out to US-based Firefox users in December and then to all Firefox users in early 2015.

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Google to Offer Domain Registration

domainsThe domain registrar industry is about to crack wide open, with new evidence that Google is moving into the domain registration market.

The move confirms rumors that Google is serious about selling domains – rumors that began when the Internet giant made DNS changes to GoogleDomains.com in late March, after having owned the domain for several years. Domaining is a thriving industry, growing every year, as evidenced by GoDaddy’s latest IPO announcement.

Google Domains is currently in invitation-only BETA release, but on appearance, will be a fully-fledged domain registration service on public launch, with all the customizable domain features of large registrars.

I’ve requested my invitation to participate and will review the service here on the blog as soon as I can. Watch this space!

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Fast Five in Search – Week 17, 2014

fast-five

 

Last week I treated you to five of my favorite Social Media Marketing News Sources. This week I share the remaining five that wouldn’t fit on last week’s list.

Here’s this week’s Fast Five – Top Social Media News Sources (continued):

1) Social Media Today – This site claims to pull together “the world’s best thinkers on social media”. While that statement is always going to be relative, I can vouch for the consistent freshness of their content. Be sure to check out their infographics channel while you’re there.

2) Social Fresh – Themed in a happy orange, this blog provides exactly what it says on the label – a collection of fresh updates about social media. What makes Social Fresh unique is their angle toward social media education. Their goal is to inspire people to create better businesses through social media via social media conferences and online training programs.

3) Expanded Ramblings Social Channel – As a reminder, Expanded Ramblings have an extensive library of Internet statistics and Infographics. Much of their content is dedicated to social media and this link will take you straight to that good stuff. If you need to find recent social media usage statistics or related stats, you’re bound to find something here.

4) TechCrunch Social Media Channel – As I’ve blogged about in the past, the TechCrunch network reaches over 12 million unique visitors and draw more than 37 million page views per month, with more than 2 million friends and followers on the various social media channels. This is their exclusive news channel for all things social media.

and finally…

5) Social Times – A recent discovery, this site is dedicated exclusively to social media news and is published by Media Bistro – a long time provider of jobs, news, education, events, and research for the media industry.

Happy reading!

*Image courtesy of Threadless.

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Fast Five in Search – Week 16, 2014

fast-five

 

After posting my list of Top Digital Marketing News Sources a few weeks ago, some of you asked me if I could recommend some sources that focus exclusively on social media and social marketing news. I’m happy to oblige with this week’s Fast Five. There’s more than five, but let’s stick to the format and reveal five at a time (more next week).

Here’s this week’s Fast Five – Top Social Media News Sources:

1) SiteProNews Social Media News – SiteProNews is probably the largest single source of daily social media news that I visit in my morning rounds. Because their article feed is collated by author tags, the stories can be filed under several categories, including social media (linked above), social media marketing and social networking articles, so be sure to check each category for the latest stories.

2) Social Media Examiner – Pitching as the world’s largest online social media magazine, Social Media Examiner was founded by well known copywriter Michael Stelzner. With a flock of well known self-help gurus as guest bloggers, Social Media Examiner helps businesses discover how to best use social media, blogs and podcasts to connect with customers, drive traffic, generate awareness and increase sales. Technorati ranks Social Media Examiner as one of the world’s Top 5 business blogs.

3) Social Media Explorer – Headed up by social butterflies Nichole Kelly and Jason Falls, Social Media Explorer is a strategic services agency focusing on both social media marketing and digital marketing. As well as articles about social media marketing and search engine marketing, this site also provides an extensive selection of articles about public relations, media and journalism.

4) VentureBeat Social Media News – A little bit Huff Post, a little bit Mashable, this quirky site aims to “provide deep context to help executives, entrepreneurs, and tech enthusiasts make smart decisions”. With 11 million monthly pageviews, the site is growing in popularity and seems to source more unique social media news than some of the bigger players. A handy bookmark if you’re looking for a new perspective on social.

and finally…

5) MarketingLand Social Media Channel – MarketingLand.com was developed as an offshoot of the successful SearchEngineLand run by Danny Sullivan and his team. Given the constant morphing of search engine marketing and social media marketing, it made sense to expand topics across separate sites under more relevant category headings and domains. This is the new and improved social media newsfeed now hosted on MarketingLand.com, but you can see older social media archives over on SearchEngineLand.com.

I’ll complete the list with my five remaining Top Social Media News Sources next week.

Happy news hunting!

*Image courtesy of Threadless.

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