So it looks like Google has been quite the busy little bee in the last three months!
I had already covered the major Google updates of February and March 2015 in previous Local Search Tips blog posts. First there was the announcement made in February that Google and Twitter had struck a deal to give the search engine direct access to the social network’s “firehose” of tweets, making it more important than ever for small businesses to get on Twitter. Then a month later in March, Google announced they were launching a new algorithm update aimed at penalizing websites with doorway pages. And since there are a high proportion of local business websites that utilize doorways as an intentional black-hat SEO strategy for greater search visibility, many were likely negatively impacted by this algorithmic penalty.
But since my last post, there have been not one but two additional monumental changes to Google’s search ranking algorithm.
Mobilegeddon: Is Your Local Business Site Mobile-Friendly?
Some of you might already be aware of this, but April 2015 was a game-changing month for Google. And considering how busy they’ve been over the last three months, that’s saying a lot!
On April 21, 2015, the search company officially rolled out their “mobile-friendly” ranking algorithm update.
What is now commonly referred to as Mobilegeddon, this was a monumental event that had a huge impact on the search visibility of a local business website in mobile search. That’s because webpages that passed Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test got a boost in mobile search rankings, while those that failed the test were subsequently pushed down in Google’s mobile search results.
But the thing that made this update different from past algorithm changes, such as Panda or Penguin? Google gave everyone two months’ notice with details on the nature of this mobile-friendly update, as well as the exact roll-out date! This was truly unprecedented.
Prior notification of Mobilegeddon was definitely a blessing in disguise. Instead of being penalized for having websites that weren’t “mobile-friendly,” advanced knowledge of this Google update gave local businesses the opportunity to make the appropriate site changes needed to ensure they pass Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.
Unsure of whether your local business website is considered “mobile-friendly” in the eyes of Google? Want to know if your site was penalized by this mobile search update?
A list of everything you need to know about Mobilegeddon:
- Learn about the new “mobile-friendly” criteria in Google search results – Read the official Webmaster Central Blog post that explains in detail the new mobile-friendly label that’s now implemented across Google search results, including a list of criteria that must be met in order for webpages to be marked as “mobile-friendly.”
- Check for mobile-friendliness via Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool – Submit a webpage URL to analyze and Google will let you know whether you’ve passed or failed their mobile-friendly design test, and how their Googlebot search spider sees the page.
- Track mobile usability issues affecting your site in Google Webmaster Tools – Find out how many pages on your website contain mobile usability errors, from small font size to touch elements too close and more. Download the data to Excel, or monitor the graph in Webmaster Tools over time.
- Monitor your site’s search analytics by device type in Google Webmaster Tools – Stay up-to-date on your website’s Google search impressions and clicks, filtered by desktop, mobile or tablet device type.
The Google Quality Update: Did Your Business Website Experience a Recent Rankings Shake-Up?
April was undoubtedly a busy month for many local business owners who had to scramble to get their site up to speed in order to pass Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. But don’t breathe a sigh of relief just yet! That’s because Barry Schwartz from Search Engine Land just announced today the rumours of a major Google ranking algorithm update taking place in May 2015 is true.
Previously referred to as the “Phantom Update” and now known unofficially as the new “Quality Update,” this rankings switch-up was officially confirmed today by Google. The search company has also emphasized that this update is not related to Panda or Penguin. Instead, it has to do with overall quality in general. And since we are still in the early days, not a lot has been reported on the nature of this latest Google update.
Stay tuned to the FS Local blog for future updates on this recent Google algorithm update. For now, here are some things to consider.
A list of everything you need to know about the new Google Quality Update:
- Brush up on Google’s quality guidelines and best practices – Does your website contain content that’s original, unique, credible, engaging, high in quality, and provides more value to users than other sites? Are there any obvious grammatical errors and spelling mistakes, or broken links? Is there an excessive amount of ads, or comment and forum spam?
- Address all suggested HTML improvements in Google Webmaster Tools – Sign in to your Webmaster Tools account and fix all meta description, title tag and other HTML issues listed to help improve your site’s user experience and performance.
- Fix all site and URL crawl errors in Google Webmaster Tools – Keep your business website healthy by regularly monitoring all crawl errors found by Googlebot while crawling your site in both desktop and mobile search.