Mobile-Friendliness Ranking Change

The importance of responsive and mobile-friendly websites has been a known fact for a few years now; however, Google has finally drawn a line in the sand. On Tuesday, April 21, mobile-friendliness will be considered a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches worldwide and will have a significant impact on search results. This change is geared to have users find relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices. This change does not affect desktop search results, only Google searches performed on a mobile device, which includes tablets.

In order to ensure your website is not negatively affected by this change, it is important that your website is responsive, or utilizes another mobile site choice. Though a responsive web design is the recommended choice, it does not sway your rankings with Google if you use responsive over another mobile site choice. As long as it is optimized for a mobile device, Google doesn’t really care how. The mobile-friendliness of a website will be considered on a page-by-page basis and in order to pass the test, all of the pages on the website must be mobile-friendly. Another important note about this change mentioned by Google’s own Gary Illyes, is that Googlebots must be able to crawl both CSS & JavaScript. If the website blocks these elements, your site will not pass Google’s mobile-friendly test and could see a drastic change in your mobile rankings. You can use this Mobile-Friendly Test to see whether or not your website is properly optimized for mobile devices. We tested our new Robmark.com site and it passed the test!

The changes in ranking will happen immediately. As soon as the website is crawled and discovered as mobile-friendly, on a URL-to-URL basis, it will be updated. Don’t wait until April 21 to see if your website has been affected. Be proactive with the help of Robmark Web. Robmark Web is Savannah’s website development company that features in clean, responsive websites for any industry. Make sure your mobile website traffic doesn’t drop and give us a call today: 912-921-1040!

Further Reading:

http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2015/02/finding-more-mobile-friendly-search.html

http://www.thesempost.com/googles-gary-illyes-qa-upcoming-mobile-ranking-signal-change/?utm_source=sendgrid&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=top10

http://www.seobook.com/responsive-design-seo

Pooler Chamber of Commerce Business Luncheon

Last Tuesday, Robmark Web’s team attended the Pooler Chamber of Commerce Business Luncheon at the New Birth church in Pooler. Megan Alexa spoke about basic website health and some things to keep in mind if you are looking to update, redesign or build a brand new website.

Read below to see some of the suggestions that Robmark Web had in terms of website health.

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Website Recommendations: Optimization, Mobile Support & Social Share Features

Having a great off-site marketing strategy is great, especially when it comes to social media. However, if you’re website is not set up properly, all of the gained traffic will be wasted. In order for a website to be a successful piece of your online marketing strategy, a few things must be in place in terms of website health.

1. Optimization for Search Engines & Users
First and foremost, the website must be properly optimized for search engines and users. This goes beyond just include optimization techniques for search engines by also ensuring the inclusion of relevant, engaging content and features for your users. Consider your business and the features that your website will need to cater to those users.

Also, over time, websites can get very cluttered as more and more pages are added. Always keep organization in mind by keeping your most relevant, high-level pages in the navigation, and categorizing sub-level pages from there.

2. Mobile Support & Responsive Design
Secondly, the website should be mobile-friendly or be fully responsive. As of 2014, mobile traffic has now surpassed desktop traffic to websites. Tablets and mobile phones are increasingly popular, and many people are opting to purchase a mobile device over a full-size desktop or laptop computer. Additionally, search engines, such as Google and Bing, have reported that those websites which do not conform to the latest technology and techniques for supporting mobile devices will see decreased rankings on mobile search results. With this in mind, mobile support is no longer optional, but a necessity.

The best option when looking for mobile support on your website is responsive design. If a responsive design is not an option for your business or budget, option for a fully-functional mobile website can solve this issue. If you are building a separate mobile website, two things must be managed: redirects for all URLs, and tablet-to-mobile responsive layout.

Often times, when a separate mobile website exists, redirects are not thought out in advance. For this reason, shared links through social media and email may be shared on a desktop device, then opened on a mobile device. If redirects are not in place, users will be pulled back to the mobile homepage, which then interrupts the user experience and often time forces a bounce.

Additionally, it is common for mobile websites to only cater to mobile phone users, and often forget the slightly larger display on a tablet device. A tablet-to-mobile responsive layout can alleviate this by providing a fluid layout for iPads, Kindle Fires, iPhones and more. With this solution, the website can cater to any device width, regardless of the viewing environment.

3. Social Share Features
Lastly, websites in relevant industries should include social share features throughout and include the appropriate social media tags to ensure proper display throughout user profiles online.

Social share features provide an easy way for users to share your content on their personal profiles, and by doing so generate traffic back to your website. Do this for industries that make sense. A restaurant or travel-related website may see huge benefits from this, but an insurance agency may not. It all depends on your users and the amount of social activity you’ve seen in the past.

Open Graph tags unify the titles, descriptions and photos of shared pages and encourage a higher click-through-rate. Have you ever shared something on Facebook and noticed the logo pulling as the default image? Or seen an empty description pop up? These kinds of things happen when Open Graph META tags are not properly installed or ignored altogether. Avoid this by asking your development team to ensure they are included in the launch process. Open Graph tags also present additional opportunities to improve your click-through rate from social media. Well thought out, eye-catching headlines and graphics encourage users to click to visit your website to learn more.

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We hope that these suggestions help to address some basic website health questions for you. If you have additional questions or inquiries, please contact us through our website. We thank the Pooler Chamber of Commerce for inviting us to the luncheon on Tuesday.

Minimalist Web Design – Why Now?

Today, the minimalist philosophy that promotes living simply and efficiently has made its imprint on our culture. At the same time, in the web design world, the most cutting-edge websites are adopting their own sort of minimalist philosophy – color schemes of only one or two colors, fewer elements on the page, efficient uses of space – basically getting rid of “clutter.” But are the two trends related?

When it comes to their times of origination, yes, but only coincidentally. Today’s minimalist lifestyle can be interpreted as a reaction against the pre-Recession lifestyle of excess, embracing the rejection of luxuries such as unwatched cable TV channels and larger-than-needed houses. In that sense, the trends we associate with today’s minimalist lifestyle can be traced back to about 2008.

Coincidentally, minimalist web design first entered the scene at a similar time, but for different reasons. The first major smartphone, the iPhone, was released in June 2007. Before that time, most websites were filled with lots of copy, lots of design elements, and lots of what would today be considered empty space – in other words, clutter. But this has become less and less the norm over time. Since mobile web traffic accounts for roughly half of all web traffic as of this year, now more than ever, web designers are designing responsive websites with mobile display as a priority. On mobile devices with only a few square inches of screen space, spatial efficiency is highly important, and, generally speaking, there is no longer a need or desire for multiple paragraphs of text. So in that sense, as the minimalist lifestyle is a reaction against a lifestyle of plenty, minimalist web design is too a reaction against the old ways – archaic design methods that have no place in a smartphone world.

I would argue, however, that the rise of minimalist web design has less to do with any larger cultural phenomena and more to do with two harsh World Wide Web realities: 1) the “too long, didn’t read” mentality of the online community, and 2) Google rankings in an increasingly mobile world.

Anyone who has ever read through an online discussion has likely scrolled past somebody’s longwinded treatise and then seen someone who responded, “TLDR,” standing for “too long, didn’t read.” We all do this when surfing the Web, in some way. We are sometimes turned off by large blocks of text and choose not to commit the time to reading something we aren’t confident will answer our questions. We like to save time by moving on to find concise answers with helpful images. Savvy web designers know this truism and are shifting their copy and layouts accordingly to maintain their readers’ attention.

From Google’s perspective, in an increasingly mobile world, a website’s readability on mobile devices is a high priority, and it will adjust search engine rankings accordingly. Google grades a website’s mobile performance by, among others, two signals – bounce rate and page load speed. Bounce rate is defined by the percentage of users who leave a website after only viewing one page. Oftentimes, mobile users will “bounce” from a website that has not been configured for mobile devices – in other words, the “TLDR”-oriented user chooses not to take the time to zoom in on the tiny text on his/her smartphone and moves on to the next search result. Google takes notice when too many mobile users bounce, and it can downgrade the website in search rankings if it is interpreted as apparently not a top reliable source of readable content.

Likewise, page load speed, which Google says should be less than 1 second on mobile devices, can affect Google rankings. The fewer elements on the page, particularly photographs and graphics, the faster the page will load, especially on 3G-dependent mobile devices. What better first step toward improving page load speed than to get rid of excess images that lag a website’s load time.

Therefore, with our often-flighty readership encouraging minimal text on the one hand, and with our mobile Internet infrastructure encouraging minimal images on the other hand, web designers have endorsed minimalist design for very practical reasons unrelated to the spirit of the times.

Further reading:

http://www.business2community.com/online-marketing/seo-website-design-0972415#!bPMZO2

http://www.awwwards.com/websites/minimal/

Mobile Web Traffic and its Impact on SEO

It’s official – for the first time in history, as of 2014, Web traffic from mobile devices has outpaced Web traffic from desktops. Nearly everyone, from businesspeople to leisurely browsers, is accessing the Internet on mobile and tablet devices more and more. I recently blogged about how this growing shift in Web usage has revolutionized webpage design and how web designers are transitioning towards responsive design with mobile interface at the forefront.

Now the consequences of a dominant share of mobile Web users are affecting search engine optimization as well. Google announced last year, in so many words, that neglecting user experience on mobile devices will hurt your website’s search engine rankings. It is no longer good enough to patch up a website so that it at least works on mobile devices and then leave it at that. Websites that load too slowly on mobile devices (longer than 1 second), webpages that rely too heavily on Flash, and mobile-switch websites that always redirect mobile users to a splashpage/homepage regardless of which sublevel page they were looking for will see their Google rankings diminished.

And Google is right to make these adjustments. In their quest to supply users, including mobile users, with the best content on the Web, Google should pass over websites that cannot effectively supply content to users on mobile devices.

Google recommends that websites implement responsive web design, for which the website’s HTML remains the same, no matter the user’s device, and CSS styling repositions, resizes, or hides certain elements depending on the screen resolution of the user. Google prefers responsive websites to other types of mobile sites for the simple fact that a responsive website, from the standpoint of its URL structure and its HTML/CSS code, is the same website no matter the device on which it is rendered and therefore can be trusted by Google as a consistent and reliable source of content. Other mobile website strategies, such as dynamic websites (different HTML depending on device) and mobile-switch sites (different URLs depending on device), are prone to misconfigurations that will affect mobile interface and page ranking.

Take a look below at some of the responsive websites that we at Robmark Web have developed for our Savannah web design clients:

Further reading:
http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2302895/Matt-Cutts-on-SEO-PageRank-Spam-the-Future-of-Google-Search-at-Pubcon-Las-Vegas

http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2354054/Mobile-Site-Configuration-101-How-to-Choose

http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2353616/Mobile-Now-Exceeds-PC-The-Biggest-Shift-Since-the-Internet-Began