Today Google shifted its algorithm to give greater preference to sites that are mobile friendly. Mobile traffic, that specifically from smartphones and tablets, now accounts for over 60 per cent of the searches performed on Google.  As a result, sites that are not easily read on mobile devices will have their Google search ranking, and therefore their organic traffic, decline starting today.

What is SEO?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of using content and website organization to increase the amount of traffic a site gets through search engines.

The goal of any search engine is to deliver the most relevant content possible based on a user’s query. When a site delivers relevant content via on-site material or downloads and captures the reader’s attention, the site is successful.  Search engines remember which search results were the most relevant and led their users receiving the best information.

Imagine receiving a grocery store flyer in the mail but when you go shopping you notice all of the prices are wrong.

High bounce rates or users visiting a site and quickly navigating away hurt search engine rankings. Google and other search engines will penalize a site with a high bounce rate because that indicates the site does not provide valuable content in line with users’ searches.

Why is Google making this change?

Sites that were not optimized for mobile were damaging Google’s search relevance.

When people get to the store they found the aisles too narrow, the products too difficult to reach and no one could checkout at the cash with anything but Paypal.

With smartphones you want to have shortest path to information of value as possible. Smartphone users have an attention span of about eight seconds, so you need to hook them quickly. Non-responsive website designs, those that don’t adjust the layout of the page for the device it is viewed on, are harder to navigate for the user and lead to higher bounce rates.

What can you do today?

  1. Test your sites.

    Google has built a tool that lets you test if your website is mobile-friendly. Copy the URL and paste it into the tool’s search. The results indicate whether the website will be affected by today’s change and some recommendations to improve your site.

  2. Learn about analytics.

    Every website has its own metrics of success. Gaining a base level understanding of them will help you improve your site overtime. The best tool and overwhelming used is Google Analytics. It allows you to measure bounce rate, total traffic and the average time users spend on each page. Google offers free training that ranges from installing tracking mechanisms on your site to measuring traffic in a mobile application. There are learning resources and if you have any trouble, you can always Google it.

  3. Update your site.

    Redesigning a website has never been easier. With content management systems like WordPress, GoDaddy or Blogger you can use modular templates that require a limited amount of coding to get online. Many of these templates are also responsive, thereby eliminating extra work on optimization.

Above all if you are producing great content your audience will find it. Share some of yours with us on Twitter @Cision_Canada.

About James Rubec

James Rubec is a data geek, a former public relations lead and journalist with a love of content and advocacy. Ask him anything @JamesRRubec and be sure to follow @Cision_Canada

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