Ahhhh, the Google algorithm update. From my perspective as a journalist these are always a bit like the culinary run-up to Christmas.
Every industry commentator with something to say about your website and brand strategy assumes the role of TV chef, each with a hot new SEO recipe to get you through those crucial, terrifying hours. It’s usually either a solution to your problem so Blumenthally bonkers complex that it barely passes as a turkey dinner, or so pointlessly simple you’ve already thought of it, and the end result is still it barely passes as a turkey dinner.
In any case, us writers all have our ways and means of telling you: “It’ll all be alright on the big day. Just do your prep and don’t burn your grandmother.”
Not so today, however. I’d be showing you how to roast a bird when you really should be serving cheesecake by now.
There’s a host of old, somehow magically active websites that Google is looking to weed out
Google’s latest, worldwide algorithm update – stronger than Panda, sleeker than Penguin, more lofty than Hummingbird, in fact so powerful that a cutesy animal onesie couldn’t even contain it ironically this time – today comes into force to up-rank mobile-optimized websites. Or punish the ones that aren’t. Or both. As far as I can tell they’ve decided to call it the very cute ‘mobile-friendly ranking algorithm’. Awww. The industry calls it ‘Mobilegeddon’. Shock and awe.
Take the Google Mobile-Friendly Test below
This all feels a bit much, though I concede I’m writing this in lieu of the app-ocalypse (thank you I’m here all week, don’t forget to tip your waitress). If it is Mobilegeddon and today’s Judgment Day, quite frankly Terminator found Ms. Connor a while ago. If you’re not mobile-friendly by now – and, it should be said, 40% of websites apparently aren’t, while last year ComScore reported that 60% of our digital life is conducted from a mobile device – there’s not much I can say now to assuage your fears. I’d guess you’ve already read the Gordon Ramsay-type SEO’s comments, telling you the chicken Kiev that is your website lacks unctuous garlicky content, and you are screwed.
Don’t worry. Thing is, unless your website’s dinosaur old and hasn’t been updated in years, it will probably be fine. For a start I’m willing to bet that that 40% includes a whole host of old, unused, but still somehow magically active websites that Google is, quite rightly, looking to weed out. It’s a bit like the last days of the leaded petrol engine.
Optimise for mobile now, here
Furthermore, the indications right now are that this update will affect mobile-specific search results. There’s talk that Google is crawling app feed information, for example, so mobile sites that emulate the ‘everlasting’ newsfeed style of your Facebook phone app are kind of formats that will be ranked highly. So if you were a desktop-centric business website before, it’s likely your desktop search rankings will be unaffected. If you’re mobile-centric, I expect you’ve got most of the important elements under control. Though read on if you still have some concerns about this.
If all this Mobilegeddon stuff is a genuine worry for you then I expect you’ve already bookmarked a list of SEO articles as long as your arm, full of the latest recipes on how to avoid disaster. I’d say you’re better off just following this, the Google Mobile-Friendly Test, which will tell you if your website’s OK, and this, the Mobile SEO site, which will give you all the bits you’ll need to tighten up a few wavering cogs.
The chicken Kiev that is your website lacks unctuous garlicky content
I’m more of a happy-go-lucky, Jamie Oliver kind of a guy. Relax, s’all good mate. Now you’ve got the right tools I think it’d be better to focus on the pukker positives of this. Mainly – your edge.
A chance to Find a new edge
It’s easy to forget amongst the inevitable grumble over Google’s latest update, always bear in mind that these algorithm updates come in to give Google a competitive edge. Google is a commercial entity, and its primary function is a search engine. Looking for stuff on the web for you is what it does, and it needs to do it better than its competitors. It’s all about user experience. Google is focused on improving QUALITY of search results – give it quality content and you’ll be rewarded with quality ranking.
With that in mind, forget all this technical SEO stuff, trust me as someone who’s seen the bad and good sides of this ever-evolving world in action. Get the basics right using the tools above and then see this as YOUR opportunity to get a competitive edge.
So, Google wants a mobile-friendly site? Well, dagnabbit, you’re gonna give it to ‘em. Don’t just make your mobile site an updated version of the desktop one; design it for the format. Give them value and exclusivity. You want mobile user brownie points? Design a mobile user experience. It’s that simple.
Give Google quality content and you’ll be rewarded with quality ranking
Mobile friendly recruitment marketing
One of the big positives in terms of standing out from the crowd happens to be one of my favourite subjects – recruitment content marketing. I like cars and football and He-Man and stuff too, mind.
I see massive opportunities in recruitment content from this update. Why? Because the kids these days use their phones to go job hunting. As you’d expect, really. But it’s got to a critical mass now. It was reported last year that mobile usage on LinkedIn was at 41%, up from 38% in 2013. Nearly half of LinkedIn’s users do so from their phones.
Even more tellingly, the employee review site Glassdoor ran a similar survey last year and discovered that 89% of job seekers intended to use their mobiles to do so. Meanwhile, 45% of them said they’d use their mobile to search for jobs at least once a day. But just 44% said they’d actually APPLY for jobs on their phones.
So what does that tell you? The employer that designs a mobile website experience and/or working app, that makes job application simple from a phone, will have one hell of a Christmas dinner this year.
This is what I’m talking about – you have to change your thinking when it comes to these crazy updates. Go with the flow. These are not creative restrictions; they’re creative opportunities. So sink your teeth into that tasty bird. Pukker.
Does he even say that anymore?
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