3 Steps To Know If Google’s Mobile Update Affected Your Website


3 Steps To Know If Google’s Mobile Update Affected Your Website

Chances are, you heard about “Mobilegeddon,” the much-anticipated update to Google’s algorithm that took effect on April 21. Even though the update hasn’t shown itself to be nearly as earth shattering as its nickname implies, making your site mobile-friendly is still an extremely important initiative for your business. As Boostability CEO Travis Thorpe puts it, “No matter what updates Google releases, Google wants to provide good user experience. If you are providing the best user experience for your users, you don’t need to worry as much about updates.”

Focusing on user experience rather than the update itself makes the importance of mobile-friendliness all the more clear. Consider, for example, that 90% of Google traffic is mobile! Now, more than ever, being online is synonymous with being on a phone, not a computer. In addition, mobile visitors to your website are 46% less likely to browse the websites of your competitors, and 30% of mobile users will simply abandon their purchase altogether if your website isn’t optimized for mobile.

Knowing that a mobile-friendly website is crucial to the experience of your users, how can you tell if you’re in the clear or if you need to step up your mobile game? In an effort to encourage websites to become mobile-friendly, Google has released its guide to mobile best practices and also created a mobile-friendly testing tool. We’ve listed a roundup of three major steps that will walk you through the process of assessing your own website’s mobile-friendliness.

Did #Mobilegeddon Affect Your Website? Find Out In These 3 Steps.

1. Mobile SEO Audit

Whether your website is already mobile-friendly or not, completing a mobile SEO audit will ensure that Google can correctly identify and serve your mobile content.

Start by validating your site with Google’s mobile friendly test tool, making sure the site resources such as images, CSS, JS are also easily crawled by Google.

You can also view the Google Webmaster Tools mobile usability report, which will alert you to various mobile usability issues such as the use of Flash, improperly sized content, and touch elements that are too close together.

Check Google Webmaster Tools’ Crawl Errors report and select the “Smartphone” tab to identify if Google’s smartphone crawler has found any problems when crawling your site. For example:

  • Are crucial segments of your website being blocked? Are all of your pages being crawled and indexed as they should be?
  • Are your pages returning soft-404s or 404s, indicating they aren’t being found?
  • From which pages and XML sitemaps are the errors being linked or referred?

Identify the sources of these crawling issues, making sure to unblock or block as needed and avoid linking or referring to non-existing pages.

Use the fetch as Google feature in Webmaster Tools and select the “Mobile Smartphone” option to see how Google’s smartphone crawler sees your most important pages. Answer these questions:

  • Is it accessing to the right version, or is it being redirected to a non-relevant page?
  • Is the content accessible?
  • Are the SEO elements, such as the title and meta description of each page, being crawled?
  • Are the site pages set up correctly (including the relevant annotations, http status, user agent detection, etc.) based on your chosen mobile site configuration?

If you’d like to conduct this analysis for your entire site, you can use crawling tools like Screaming Frog or DeepCrawl which allow you to select the smartphone Googlebot as your user agent.

Site speed is another important aspect of optimization, as this is a ranking factor for both mobile and desktop sites. Use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to check for page speed issues on your mobile site:

You can also use the Speed Suggestions report in Google Analytics (under BehaviorSite Speed) with a mobile advanced segment to identify any speed issues on the pages with the highest mobiles pageviews and prioritize page speed optimization for these pages.

2. Evaluate Your Traffic Behavior & Mobile Webpage Visibility

In Google Webmaster Tools, identify the top queries and top pages in mobile search with the “Mobile” filter of the Search Queries report.

When viewing this report, try to determine the following:

  • Are the top queries and pages in mobile search the same as those in desktop search, or are they different?
  • Are your mobile users searching for the same information in the same way as your desktop users?
  • Which queries have a high click-through rate (CTR) despite not being in the first positions? Which ones have a low CTR despite ranking in those top positions?
  • Which search queries and pages are trending upwards in traffic and rankings? Which are trending downwards?

Further your understanding of mobile search visibility and user behavior by analyzing your mobile traffic in Google Analytics with a mobile organic advanced segment.

Review this report to discover:

  • Which are the top pages from a mobile organic traffic and conversions perspective?
  • Which are those with a higher than average bounce rate and lower conversion rate?
  • Does mobile user behavior on these pages mirror that of desktop and tablet organic traffic to these pages?

Use Google Analytics Mobile report (under Audience) to identify the top mobile devices used by your visitors.

Then, check how the pages with the highest mobile pageviews — and those that you had previously identified with the highest mobile search results visibility — are seen from your visitors’ most popular mobile devices by emulating them with Chrome’s Developers Tools Device Mode.

Do the same by searching for the top queries providing you mobile search results visibility to see how your pages are shown in mobile search results, as well as to identify which are your top mobile search competitors.

3. Establish Your Mobile Web Search Competitiveness & Monitor Your Performance

Use tools like SEMrush, SearchMetrics, Sistrix or SimilarWeb to discover the keywords for which your mobile search competitors are ranking, and use this information to identify more potential keywords to target.

(SimilarWeb additionally offers a “Mobile Web Traffic” report that you can use to verify the level and trend of mobile visits to your competitors’ site vs. your own.)

Once you’ve compiled a list of keywords your competitors are ranking for, you can combine them with the keywords from your top mobile search queries report in Google Webmaster Tools to create a master list of keywords.

Segment these keywords into categories and perform keyword research with the Google Keyword Planner. Aside from suggesting potential new keyword ideas, the Keyword Planner allows you to view “Mobile Trends” and see a “Breakdown by Device,” which will give you an idea of mobile search volume and trends over time. This data will allow you to prioritize the keywords with the highest potential.

Once you know what keywords to focus on, continue by tracking and monitoring your progress.

Using a ranking tracking tool that supports mobile rank tracking (such as SEMrush position tracking feature or Advanced Web Ranking), keep track of where you and your competitors stand with the valuable keywords you’ve identified — those that are already bringing the highest mobile search visibility along those with the highest potential with a rank tracking tool that supports mobile rankings.

Check to see which of your pages are ranking for those keywords, and then look at the pages that your competitors are ranking with. Identify the cause of the potential ranking gaps between your site and your competitors’ by developing a mobile-targeted competition analysis using URL profiler (as described here). You can also set custom alerts in Google Analytics to be automatically informed of decreases and increases of your mobile web organic traffic.

In reviewing the latest mobile-friendly update to Google’s algorithm, Boostability’s Director of SEO, Andrew Eagar, noted that just 4% of websites adjusted their websites to be mobile-friendly in response to the update. Going further, many websites saw absolutely no change in rankings as a result of the update. Still, Eagar maintained “This shouldn’t distract anyone from the need to provide mobile-related enhancements and updates to their websites. Mobile optimization remains an important effort because it’s important for users.”

Kate Lyman
[email protected]