April 21, 2015. Somewhere deep within the halls of a sprawling Googleplex corporate campus, some buttons were pressed and with a single motion, the algorithm changed. Legions of online publishers watched as the weight of the algorithm descended and waited in horror -- watching Google ranks plummet and traffic bottom out while their content sat in a wasteland surrounded by tumbleweeds.
Mobilegeddon had arrived.
Even if publishers were prepared for the inevitable favoritism that Google would give to sites better optimized to mobile, they may not be as optimized as they can be. So for those who are still trudging through the dystopian future of yet another Google algorithm change, here are some common mistakes that publishers make and how to avoid them.
While you probably have your strategy in place, it's a good idea to look at some things you might be forgetting.
Before you do anything, choose your mobile configuration
First, make sure you have a mobile strategy in place -- whether you choose a separate mobile version, a responsive design, or dynamically served content solution. The configuration you choose is entirely dependent upon what visitors are going to do on your site from a mobile device.
1. Mobile-Friendly Theme
If your current theme is not mobile-friendly, it may be time for a total redesign instead of adjusting the old theme. There are a variety of ready-to-use responsive themes offered by third-party vendors for reasonable prices. Especially if your Web site is built on a platform like Wordpress, there are many free and inexpensive templates that Web teams can easily install or customize.
2. Tracking and Analytics
Mobile needs to be measured just like desktop. Make sure you have all your tracking codes in place, be it Google Analytics or your preferred system, for tracking and analysis. You may want to set up a different tracking for mobile versus desktop targeted toward mobile-specific behavior.
3. Desktop vs. Mobile Page Connections
If your strategy is to have a separate mobile version of your site, don¹t forget to properly set up the connections. Use the rel=²alternate² tag and rel=²canonical² tags. It’s something we all know, but often forget about.
4. Missing Pages
What if your mobile site has fewer pages than your desktop site? Well, anything is better than 404 page. You can show the desktop version instead or offer a choice between desktop version and home page. Another option is showing a search field or menu so the user can get to the content they wanted.
5. Third-Party Widgets
Be it social media widgets or content recommendation, they should look and work well with mobile devices. Most providers offer either responsive widgets or mobile-specific versions. When it comes to making a decision, responsive variants are preferable, as you don't have to arrange special software to serve the right version of a widget.
7. Unplayable Content
Make sure that your content is compatible with mobile platforms. Flash media, for example, does not work on iOS platforms, and there are many programs that can convert flash files into other usable formats.
8. Business Processes
Mobile patterns result in totally different behavior. That’s why mobile and desktop versions of the same Web site are often dramatically different. Leads coming in from mobile require a different approach, process and sales funnel. Businesses need to work through relevant procedures with employees and may even need to rethink the entire process.
While it sometimes feels like we live in a world that entirely exists upon the whims of Google¹s legendary algorithm, we don’t have to be in a dystopia. The good news is that this change only affects your mobile search, not your desktop positions. Also, don¹t forget there are other sources of traffic in addition to Google.
Even if you are not ready, it is not the end. Just take some time to learn how Google¹s changes affect your business and with some simple tweaks, it need not be a mobilegeddon for you.