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White's Papers #2

What Google’s Mobile-Friendly Update Means for Businesses on a Budget

By Dominic White. Posted April 27th, 2015. Updated May 19, 2016

On April 21st Google launched its Mobile Friendly Update which boosts the rankings of mobile-friendly websites when searched for on mobile devices.

Google's reasonint for this is the assumption that if a person is on a mobile device, they are going to want to view a site optimized to be read on that device versus one that is not mobile friendly.

Their Official Google Webmaster Blog States…

“Searchers can more easily find high-quality and relevant results where text is readable without tapping or zooming, tap targets are spaced appropriately, and the page avoids unplayable content or horizontal scrolling.”

So what does this mean to the small business or self employed individual who has an older, non-responsive, or mobile-unfriendly website and can’t afford to rebuild their site from scratch?

That depends on how your site was built. Rather than delve into the technical details of how a site was built and how it affects the difficulty in making it mobile friendly, I am going list possible options that may be helpful to small businesses and self employed professionals who don’t have the budget for a full site upgrade.

Option 1: Best Case Scenario

The best case scenario is that the layout of your site was built using purely CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). This was something that was being recommended long before mobile friendliness became vogue, so there is a chance that your site was built with this method. It is extremely flexible and if it was done properly, the cost to make your entire site mobile friendly may not be very expensive.

There are always instances where there is some page-specific styling going on but it’s important to remember that google’s mobile friendly update is page-specific and not site-specific. If a page on your site matches a search query and that page is mobile friendly, it will not be penalized in the search results even if other pages on your site are not.

The fact that it is page-specific means you can use these other options if Option 1 is not available…

Option 2: Start with the Home Page

Since the google mobile-friendly update is page-specific, you don’t have to tear your site down and rebuild it all from scratch. Start with the home page then continue converting it as many pages at a time as your budget allows.

Option 3: Make a mobile-friendly, Customer-Relevant Section

Depending on your business your customer may only need a couple of mobile friendly pages. For instance a restaurant site would most likely need mobile friendly pages for menu, directions, and reservations. Hungry customers driving around looking for the closest place to eat aren’t going to be prioritizing your restaurant’s history or photo gallery in their search.

Option 4: Let Google Be Your Guide

Another option is to let Google tell you which pages you should make mobile-friendly. When you search for your site on google on your desktop, which pages come up? Usually google will list your home page first, then under that sometimes they will list specific pages to your website which they think are relevant to the searcher. Those pages are the ones you should make mobile friendly if you can’t make the whole site mobile friendly right away.

The Take Away

If your business site is so old it was built before CSS and before mobile devices became ubiquitous, chances are it could do with an update to take advantage of more than just mobile-friendliness. There are many other online tools your older website may not be taking advantage of such as Open Graph meta tagging which customizes how your site appears on social media, and structured data to better display relevant information on search results pages. Unfortunately not everybody is in the financial position to rebuild their site, but that doesn’t mean you can’t at least get your site partially mobile friendly, which is a start.

Any Questions?

As I state on my site: I focus on building websites for small businesses and self employed professionals because I am one. It is my goal with these White’s Papers to educate small businesses so they can make smart website decisions and to help better protect themselves from less-than-ethical web design firms that might take advantage of people’s ignorance in website matters and try to oversell you on something you may not need.

If you have an older website and would like a free estimate on making the entire site mobile-friendly or employing one of the options I listed in this article, please feel free to contact me with any questions.

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