Series: Building Your Birth Business and Google’s Mobilegeddon: What Every Birth Professional Needs to Know
Google announced in February of this year that they would penalize websites that are not “mobile friendly” and push those sites further down in the rankings in their search engines on mobile devices. They stated that the big switch would happen on April 21, 2015 and have “a significant impact on our search results.” As a birth professional, you probably have your own website. You may even maintain the website(s) yourself. You, no doubt, have worked long and hard on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and have appreciated the payoff – a great ranking when customers are looking for classes and other birth services. Could this Google change in ranking transfer over to less website visibility and have an impact on your business? Will this translate into fewer class registrations, a reduction in blog readers, or a scarcity of clients? Don’t panic, here is some information that will help you figure out what you need to know and next steps to take so that you can continue to do what you do best – supporting families during the childbearing year.
What does “mobile-friendly” mean?
Google has defined mobile friendly to mean the following:
- The site does not contain software that is not readily available on a variety of mobile devices (Flash is an example of such software)
- The site is readable without having to change the text size.
- The website is visible completely on the mobile device screen without having to use a horizontal scroll bar or the zoom feature.
- Links are spaced appropriately so that they can be appropriately accessed and tapped.
There are six classifications of “mobile-friendly” sites, and a complete description of the six categories can be found here.
Why should you care if your site is mobile-friendly?
The millennial generation, the ones having babies now, is a bigger generation than the Baby Boomer generation. Failing to understand them, and market to them in *their* “language” (i.e.: on mobile devices) is a failure to gain their business. Marketing to millennials means learning how they conduct business; *not* waiting for, or expecting them to follow the status quo.
Did you know that 85% of Americans ages 18-29 are smartphone owners, as are 78% of college graduates and 84% of those living in households with an annual income of $75,000 or more per year.
Even more important, younger adults, minorities and lower-income Americans are the most dependent on their smartphone for internet access. Overall, among U.S. adults who own a smartphone, it is estimated that 7% are “smartphone-dependent” which means that at home, they either have limited options to go online or do not have a home based internet service to use, other than through their smartphone or tablet.
If your website does not automatically reformat for a mobile device, users (read: potential customers) may choose to leave immediately or not spend as much time on your website. This could increase your “bounce rate” and lower your “dwell time”… two Google ranking factors.
Nearly 20% of millennials are mobile-only users, meaning they don’t use desktops at all. If a pregnant person can’t sign up for your classes or access your other services from their mobile device, they will find another place to get their childbirth education and other services met.
- Use Google’s mobile-friendly test page: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/ When you check the pages in your site it will give you a pass/fail grade and will also provide links to describe what can be done to fix any issues that are found. This is an important step because it helps you understand how Google views your site and it’s potential impact on your ranking.
- Visit your website on several mobile devices.
Make sure you click through every page so that you get the feel for what it is like for a potential client. Check your links, your menus, your inquiry forms and any other clickable objects to be sure they work as expected. Check how the elements on the pages are displayed to see if anything feels clunky or looks unattractive.
Mobile Version vs Mobile Responsive
Some website builders provide a mobile version of your website. This means the content is duplicated into a separate version that renders only in a mobile device. Other website builders or templates are mobile responsive which means that the website automatically responds to the display width of the device without rendering a new version. Ideally, you should have a mobile responsive website.
- Wix is not mobile responsive; you have to manually set your mobile version using their Mobile Editor
- Weebly offers some mobile responsive themes. If your theme isn’t mobile responsive Weebly creates a mobile version of your site automatically.
- Squarespace claims that all of its themes are mobile responsive.
- GoDaddy Website Builder v7 is not mobile responsive but provides a mobile version of your website for their Business & Business Plus plans. You must turn on this feature.
- WordPress.com mobile responsiveness will depend on the theme that is used. Some themes are mobile responsive. If yours is not, WordPress.com will automatically serve the user a mobile version of your website.
- Self Hosted WordPress mobile responsiveness will depend on the theme that is used. Many modern WordPress themes are mobile responsive. You can also add a mobile version using the WP Touch Mobile Plugin which works with any theme.
- Using another website provider? Try contacting their customer service to see what they have available to help you make your site mobile responsive.
Help! My Site’s Not Mobile Responsive
Remember that Google’s algorithm update only affects mobile search results. So if your site isn’t mobile responsive, it may not show up as high when someone is searching on a mobile device. Your ranking for people searching on desktops/laptops won’t be affected.
Take incremental steps to make your site mobile responsive and your rankings will improve on mobile devices.
Mobile-friendly is only one of hundreds of Google ranking signals. If you provide quality content and a well coded website, Google will continue to rank your website well.