Search engine optimization for small and very small businesses.

Archive for the web design Category

Is Bing Penalizing You for Not Being Mobile Friendly?

Mobile online access and use has passed desktop use.Mobile phone use is exploding

More people now use mobile phones than desktop computers. The dramatic increase in use of mobile devices requires you to control the user experience of your website on phones as well as on computers.

Your search rankings may be affected

Google implemented its ranking penalty for non-mobile friendly sites last April. Since then, Bing has started showing mobile friendly labels in its search results and has started to roll out its own ranking penalty for sites that aren’t mobile friendly.

Bing is paying so much attention to this that they’ve developed a quick web app that will tell you whether Bing considers your web site (or a specific web page) is mobile friendly. Just copy and paste your URL into their tool here. Just for good measure, you might want to test your pages at Google as well.

If your website fails Bing’s test (or Google’s), you need to fix that now. That’s especially important if you’re a local business, but more about that another time.

Let us know how you fare in the comments below.

 

Avoid This Pitfall for Small Business Mobile Sites

rank-magic-mobileYou may have received an email like this from Google:

Google systems have detected that your desktop site URLs redirect smartphone users to the homepage of the smartphone site rather than the page they found in Search results. This critical issue causes problems for Googlebot for smartphones because it can’t access your smartphone URLs. It also confuses your users.

Some people have taken the shortcut to make their website’s home page responsive and not taking care of the internal pages. When they do that, they create a redirect so that regardless of which page a mobile user finds in search results, clicking on it only brings them to the mobile version of the home page instead of the page they want.

Google is cracking down this practice and has been sending emails like the one above to owners, warning them about that practice. They have devoted a post in the Official Google Blog to this topic. If you’ve received the above warning, I encourage you to read Google’s position in that blog post and fix the problem ASAP.

Humorous look at poor mobile redirection practices.

We borrowed this from the folks at xkcd.com.

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Tell us about your own experiences with this in the comments below.

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Mopocalypse April 21

ready

Whether you call it Mopocalypse or Mobilegeddon, April 21 is when lots of websites will suffer significantly in Google mobile search rankings. There’s just one week left.

That’s the date Google is rolling out an algorithm change designed to promote mobile-friendly websites in mobile search. Google has taken the unusual step of actually sending emails to many website owners warning them about this, so we’re anticipating major negative impacts on sites that aren’t mobile friendly. We have more details on this in our post about it last month.

If you’re not sure whether your site is mobile friendly just check it out in Google’s new Mobile Friendly Test page. If you fail the test, we encourage you to get your site mobile friendly as soon as possible. Your webmaster can make it “responsive”, meaning the site will adjust its formatting in response to the nature of the device looking at it. Or you can create a mobile version with a product like Dudamobile and redirect to the mobile version if the user is on a phone.

If you’re using a different approach, please let us know in the comments below how you’re doing it and how well it’s working.

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Your Small Business Website Needs To Be Mobile-Friendly

Why Should I Care?

US smartphone penetration is up to 75% as of the end of 2014. Late last year, mobile traffic exceeded desktop traffic for the first time. And according to Nielsen, 87% of mobile users used their mobile device for shopping activities like searching for a product or service, pricing comparisons, or brick & mortar address search.

not mobile-friendlyAccording to Google:

Appearing on smartphones is critical for local businesses. 94% of smartphone users look for local information on their phone and 84% take action as a result, such as making a purchase or contacting the business.

Google has also been focusing more recently on the user experience of websites, preferring those that provide a good user experience because web users like those sites better. And a website that’s not mobile-friendly provides a poor user experience for smartphone users.

Google has previously announced that whether a site is mobile-friendly is a positive ranking factor. As a hint that it might be due for increased weight in Google rankings, early this year Google started issuing warnings to webmasters if their site isn’t mobile-friendly. Then as recently as last week, Google wrote “Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal.” Google has already begun a rollout of alerts for users indicating which sites in it’s search results are mobile-friendly. It’s not universal yet, but seems to be increasing in coverage.

What makes a site mobile-friendly?

mobile-friendly websiteThere are four main things that distinguish a mobile-friendly site:

  • It avoids use of software that doesn’t work on phones (like Flash).
  • It makes links and buttons large enough and far enough apart to be easily clicked with a finger.
  • It uses text that can be easily read without zooming.
  • It sizes content so there’s no horizontal scrolling needed and no zooming required.

Check your site

There are two easy ways to check to see whether your site is mobile-friendly or not.

  1. Use the Google Mobile-Friendly Tool to see if Google thinks you’re mobile-friendly.
  2. The acid test: look up your site on a phone yourself and judge.

What if you fail the test?

If you fail the test, you have three options.

  1. You can talk with your web designer about a site redesign to make your site “responsive”. Responsive means your website changes how it looks depending on what kind of device is used to view it.
  2. Without a website redesign, you can use a tool like DudaMobile to create a mobile version of your site. Typically it replaces the “www.” prefix with a “m.” prefix and does a lot of the redesign work for you. You will still need to spend time tweaking it to look the way you want, and there’s an annual fee for the service.
  3. Do nothing and take your chances with your Google rankings.

Not being mobile-friendly is not yet a major ranking signal at Google, but it will be increasing in importance over time as smartphones and tablets continue to displace laptops and desktops as the platform of choice. The next big jump in its importance as a ranking signal is scheduled for April 21 of this year.

If you’re not currently mobile-friendly, now is the time to fix that.

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Tell us about your own mobile-friendly experience in the comments below.

 

Should You Avoid Hidden Content?

hidden-contentA Hidden Danger

A common web design technique may now be dangerous to your rankings.

A Common Technique

A lot of blogs don’t display entire blog posts on the blog’s home page. It’s common to see a teaser or perhaps the first paragraph of the blog post followed by a “read more” link to open the entire blog post. That’s probably okay, as the blog post itself usually includes all the content of the blog.

I’m seeing this technique becoming more popular on non-blog pages, too, as a way to attract viewers who may be intimidated by too dense text content. Insofar as it works kind of like a bullet list where a reader can skim down and click on the one or two sections they want to read more about, it works. But it may present a hidden danger to your rankings on Google.

May Be a Bad Idea

A page that has a “read more” or “click to expand” link typically doesn’t link to a new page with its own URL. Instead, it opens the hidden content right there. And that hidden content may just be more hidden than you want it to be. It may be hidden from Google completely.

All the way back in 2012, Google wrote: “we’ve heard complaints from users that if they click on a result and it’s difficult to find the actual content, they aren’t happy with the experience.” Google went on to talk about content that’s not visible above the fold or that’s buried beneath ads and such. However, Search Engine Journal is now reporting that Google may be extending that practice by not be indexing the hidden content that’s only revealed by clicking on one of those “read more” links.

It hasn’t been 100% confirmed that Google is ignoring this kind of hidden content, so if revealing all of that content would be a major undertaking on your site it may be premature to do that. But if this is a technique you use on your site only occasionally and it would be easy to remove the hidden nature of that copy, you might give it a try and watch to see if your rankings change.

If you make a change like this, please let us know whether it affected your rankings in the comments below.

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