Google cracks down on non-optimised sites: What does this mean for your content?

Non-mobile optimised sites are about to give marketers a serious headache. Non-mobile optimised sites

Two of the largest digital companies in the world have recently announced new measures to combat non-mobile-friendly sites.

You need to get on the optimisation bandwagon (and fast) if you’re going to avoid the new penalties. Here’s some more info to help you out.

What is a non-mobile optimised site?

A non-mobile optimised site doesn’t make any adjustments for mobile users. The same website that appears on your desktop will appear on your mobile device – usually looking much much worse.

Since the introduction of smartphones, tablets, notepads, minis and smartwatches, marketers have begun to embrace ‘mobile optimisation’. This means that no matter which device is used, their websites will give visitors the best possible experience online; both in practical and aesthetic terms.

An effective mobile optimised site does the following:

  • Prioritises content – Relevant information is displayed first with easy access. It usually incorporates thumb-friendly formatting.
  • Adjusts for screen size – There’s no need to pinch, zoom or slide regardless of device type or size.
  • Connects quickly – Mobile users are on the move, so need pages to load quickly.
  • Includes phone functionality – Click-to-call, location-based services, cameras and in-built applications should all work on a mobile optimised site.
  • Creates a seamless experience – Users should be able to transition from search engine to page and navigate the site without any issues.

If your website doesn’t do all this, it can be described as ‘non-mobile optimised’.

Google set to penalise non-optimised sites

For years, Google has been pushing to use a new mobile-first search index. And now, it’s one step closer.

This has been a significant concern for the search giant because the current disconnect between search engines and mobile sites is creating a bad user experience. Here’s what’s happening:

A user, let’s say his name is Tom, googles “How does content marketing help my business?”. He scrolls through the search results and sees a blog entitled “Content marketing: 10 business benefits” by CMNews.

Great, he thinks, he’s going to get his answer so taps the link on his phone. However, after waiting a while for the page to load, he realises he hasn’t been taken to the blog he wanted to read, but to the homepage! Frustrated, he goes back to Google and looks for another blog.

This happens because CMNews have a non-optimised site. The infrastructure to support mobile users simply isn’t there. This isn’t great for them as they’ve now lost Tom (and many others) as potential leads, and Google’s not happy with them either!

58% of Google’s queries come through mobile devices, so it’s no surprise they want to streamline and improve the mobile search process. That’s where the mobile-first search index comes in.

Websites that are optimised for mobile will be brought to the top of the search rankings, and those that offer a bad mobile user experience (like CMNews) will be pushed to the bottom.

The index isn’t quite ready yet, so the Google elves have been adding to their algorithms to squash non-mobile optimised sites. We’re sure content marketers will soon see the effects.

Facebook’s doing it too!

Facebook’s latest News Feed algorithm update will reduce the reach of non-mobile sites. Again, this isn’t surprising considering 94% of Facebook users access the site via mobile. They want to keep their users happy, and non-mobile optimised sites don’t do that.

This new algorithm builds on previous penalties for slow-loading sites – a key indication of poor/no mobile optimisation.

To decide what pops up on your mobile News Feed, the algorithm takes into account:

  • Estimated load time of a webpage from any link
  • User’s current network connection
  • General speed of the corresponding webpage

If it signals that the webpage will load quickly, it will appear higher in your feed.

It’s a similar approach to Facebook videos. If you’re on a slower internet connection that will result in poor video quality, the News Feed will show you fewer videos and more status updates and links.

These are huge changes for both Facebook and Google. However, mobile users expect a smooth browsing experience, so probably won’t notice much difference at all.

Marketers shouldn’t ignore these developments. Your overall view rate, traffic and search ranking will drop if you don’t optimise your site for mobile very soon!

How can you optimise your content for mobile devices?

You need to start making changes to your website today to avoid being penalised by Facebook and Google.

Website optimisation is a big job, so it’s best to get a web developer in to sort it out. However, there are things you can do to your content to make sure it’s more responsive to mobile screens. Here are some tips:

1. Keep things short

While your articles should stay the same length to ensure quality, you should make sure your sentences and paragraphs are short and snappy.

Trim down all the fat, and make sure your message gets across immediately. Try to be as concise as possible when writing for mobile.

Overall, you shouldn’t be writing less, just better. High-quality content will be shared more and perform well in search engines, so try to focus on that.

2. Focus on headlines

On mobile, the headline is what will determine if someone clicks through to your site or not.

A good title must grab attention, pique interest and be relevant to your reader.

Showcase the benefit and include a powerful timely hook to add a sense of urgency. Don’t forget to put your keyword in there too, to help with SEO.

3. Frontload your most powerful content

All the important stuff should be above the fold. Hook the audience in using this text by speaking to their needs and getting straight to the point.

4. Think about layout

Layout is SUPER important for mobile optimisation. Headers and bullet points are a great place to start. You can also try adding large fonts that are easy to read, colourful elements and images/videos to attract attention and add interest.

Then see if you can include any tappable elements (buttons, sharing options etc) that can make the most of mobile functionality.

5. Understand your audience’s mobile habits

Talk to your audience and use analytics software to figure out how they use mobile devices. Most will conduct research on a smartphone, and complete the purchase either in store or on a desktop.

If that’s the case, you need to make sure all your product pages, blogs, guides and other Top of Funnel (TOF) collateral is optimised for mobile.

6. Test it

Testing mobile optimisation is easy – whip out your phone and see if the page looks right. If it doesn’t, go back to the CMS and start making tweaks. Get a few people in the office to do the same (if they have different phones) so you can check responsiveness for different devices.

There you have it: all you need to know about Google’s crackdown on non-optimised mobile sites and a few tips to get you started. After some adjustments to your site, you won’t have to worry about it at all!