Category: Search

FIR On Technology, Episode 4 – How To Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly

FIR On Technology logoHow do you make your website “mobile-friendly”? Given Google’s impending April 21, 2015, deadline to start using mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor for mobile search results, what can you do both in the short-term and in the longer-term to both provide the best experience for mobile users - and also retain your Google search result ranking?

In this fourth episode of “FIR On Technology” Dan York explains what you need to be thinking about with regard to “responsive design” of your website, outlines some of the resources Google offers to help, and explains several of the options you have to make your site mobile-friendly.  During the episode Dan discusses the following sites:

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The music for the intro and outro is “Early Warning” from Mark Knox and is used with his permission.

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NOTE: This podcast announcement was originally posted on the For Immediate Release (FIR) website.

Google Says Make Your Site Mobile-Friendly By April 21 – Or Drop In Search Results

Mobile friendly testIs your website "mobile-friendly"? Does it display nicely on a mobile device such as an iPhone, iPad, Android or other smart phone? If not, you have until April 21 to make it mobile-friendly... or you will suffer a drop in Google search results!

In a February 26 post on Google's Webmaster Central Blog, Google very clearly indicated their direction (my emphasis added):

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. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.

Google does not often clearly state what signals it uses for ranking search results... but here they are.

Get "mobile-friendly" ... or drop in search ranking for mobile searches!

This last point is important - they say the mobile-friendly status will be used as a ranking status for mobile searches. I interpret this to mean that if your site is not mobile-friendly you might still rank highly in searches from regular computers/laptops/desktops, but your ranking would decrease in searches from mobile devices.

However, given how many people are now using mobile devices to access the Internet... and how that trend continues to increase over time... NOT having a mobile-friendly site is going to impact people being able to get to your site.

UPDATE: I also recorded an audio podcast, "FIR On Technology, Episode 4 - How To Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly" about this topic. More information and links can be found on that page.

Tools To Help

To help with the transition to a mobile-friendly web, Google has provided several tools. First, they have a "Mobile-Friendly Test" tool at:

https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/

It will analyze your site and tell you if you are "mobile-friendly" in Google's view (which is presumably what they will use in the ranking signals).

Second, Google has a guide to creating mobile-friendly websites at:

https://developers.google.com/webmasters/mobile-sites/get-started/

A key section here is:

where they explain options you have to make your site mobile-friendly.

Moving To A New Theme

In some cases, such as this Disruptive Conversations site that is still hosted on TypePad, my only choice is to move to a new "theme" that uses "responsive design". I've already done this with danyork.com, but haven't yet done that here (but I will before April 21). This can be a larger process if you want to continue to use your existing style and design.

With other content management systems (CMSs) such as WordPress, Drupal and Joomla, you can also move to mobile-friendly themes as there are many available. When I've been creating new sites on WordPress in the past year or two I've made sure that all the themes I've been using have had "responsive design" as one of their attributes.

Using A Plugin

With some of the CMSs, there may be plugins that can help you make your site mobile-friendly without changing the theme. For instance, with WordPress, there are two that I've used to make sites mobile-friendly:

Both of those plugins essentially provide a responsive-design theme that gets used for your site when a mobile device connects to your site. You may not have all the design capabilities that you would have in having your main theme be responsive (in terms of having the mobile theme look like your main theme), but these plugins provide a quick way to get your site to be "mobile-friendly".

Other CMSs may have similar plugins, modules or extensions - you need to check with your CMS. Google's guide has links to help you get started.

Other Options

If you don't use a CMS or your CMS doesn't offer mobile-friendly themes or plugins... well... you may want to consider moving to a CMS that offers such capabilities (although that can be a huge task). Or you can read up on the principles of "responsive design" and see what you can apply to your website.

Getting To A Mobile-Friendly Web

The end result out of all of this will be a mobile-friendly web... and as all the millions and billions of new users come on to the Internet odds are pretty good that they will be using mobile devices, so the good news is that your content will be readily accessible on all those devices.

The bad news is that you may have some work to do between now and April 21 if you haven't already made your site mobile-friendly. (Well, assuming you care about ranking highly in Google search results - but if you are reading this site you probably do!)

If you've needed a deadline to make this happen... here it is!

Get mobile-friendly by April 21... or watch your Google search ranking drop!


An audio commentary on this topic is available:


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Google Confirms Having IPv6 And IPv4 Will NOT Cause Duplicate Content Issues For Search Ranking

Great to see Google’s Matt Cutts formally confirming what many have us have assumed all along – that making a website available over both IPv6 and IPv4 would not bring about a “duplicate content” issue that would incur penalties in search engine ranking.  The question Matt answers is:

As we are now closer than ever to switching to IPv6, could you please share info on how Google will evaluate websites. One website being in IPv4, exactly the same one in IPv6 – isn’t it considered duplicate content?

Here’s Matt’s response saying that there won’t be an issue:

If this was a reason you were hearing for NOT moving to IPv6, consider it addressed… why not get started today with making your sites available over IPv6?  We’ve got a number of IPv6 resources available for you, including these:

and many more!  (And if you can’t find what you need, please let us know!  We’re here to help you make the move to IPv6!)

Google Now Lets You Handwrite Search Queries On iPad, iPhone, Android

Google handwritingOkay, I admittedly find this pretty cool... you can now enter search queries into Google on a tablet or mobile phone just by writing anywhere on the screen!

As Google's blog post outlines, you need to go to www.google.com on your mobile device and then go into the Settings to configure this option. You do NOT need to sign in to Google. You just need to go there in your mobile web browser.

I've tested this on both my iPad and iPhone and found it worked quite well (per the blog post and Help Center page, it also works on Android phones and tablets - and is available in 27 languages). I find it particularly useful on the iPad where you have the larger screen to write on. On the iPhone, maybe my fingers are just too big but I found it tight to write in the regular portrait mode.

I did notice, though, that you can enter one or two letters, pause, then enter another letter or two... and as you do the search window is updated with what Google thinks the text should be as well as search query suggestions. So you may just be able to write a few letters and then tap the correct search suggestion.

Now, the question, of course, is WHY I find this interesting and the answer is that I have had some times when I'm in situations where it's not super easy to type nor do I want to be talking to my phone (i.e. using Siri). With the iPad, in particular, there are times I'm holding it while walking around at an event where typing with two hands would not be easy and voice usage isn't really possible. I could see this potentially being faster than hunt-and-peck typing a query using one hand. Will I use it all the time? No... but certainly I can see it being nice to have this option.

What's also interesting about this feature is that it requires you to go to "www.google.com". It doesn't work with the "search" box that is in the top of Mobile Safari in iOS. You need to go to Google's home page... so Google is pulling you out of using the app (Safari) and into using their web page. If you get used to doing that, Google can of course introduce other functionality - and if you are "signed in" you see your Google+ notifications and can easily access other Google services. Intriguing move by Google.

What do you think? Will you use this capability on your iPad, iPhone or Android device?

P.S. Alas, it is not as all-powerful as TechCrunch asserts with an ability to interpret cursive handwriting. I made several attempts at using cursive and found that in some cases the accuracy was "okay", but clearly not as good as block printing. In fact, Google's Tips for Handwrite very clearly state at the beginning that you should use block printing versus cursive.

And here is Google's video on the topic:


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Must Read Piece from SEOmoz: "Duplicate Content in a Post-Panda World"

Duplicatecontent seomoz

What is the impact of "duplicate content" on the search engine ranking of your web content? What are the different ways you can wind up with duplicate content? And perhaps most importunely, how can you correct the issue?

Over at the SEOmoz "Daily SEO Blog", Dr. Pete has written a truly MUST-READ piece for anyone working with web content:

Duplicate Content in a Post-Panda World

It is a LONG, comprehensive piece that explains how Google's recent "Panda" update impacts scoring of "duplicate content" and what you can do about it. He covers:

  1. What is Duplicate Content?
  2. Why Do Duplicates Matter?
  3. Three Kinds of Duplicates
  4. Tools for Fixing Duplicates
  5. Examples of Duplicate Content
  6. Which URL is Canonical?
  7. Tools for Diagnosing Duplicates

The article has a great series of examples and links out to all sorts of resources to learn more. Although SEO has been part of what I've done for many years, I definitely learned a few new things from this piece. It's definitely worth a read!

Kudos to "Dr. Pete" for writing - and sharing - such a useful piece.


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Video: Google’s Matt Cutts on "Cloaking" and Why It Is Bad

Matt Cutts at Google recently posted this useful video explaining what "cloaking" is ... and why it is bad for both the user experience and also for SEO / search engine results. He also explains how cloaking is different from providing distinct content for mobile audiences versus regular visitors.

I'll admit that I've never had enough interest in "gaming" Google to go to the desperate measure of this kind of cloaking... but obviously people are out there and doing it:


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