On April 21, 2015, Google made a few major updates to their mobile search algorithm. The biggest component of that change is how it will rank websites based on mobile search. Essentially, they are going to reward sites (i.e. ranking them higher on the results page) that make it easier for visitors to access and interact with them via mobile devices, while penalizing those that don’t.
Case in point: if you searched for something on a mobile device in March and then searched again today, the results pages could look completely different.
There’s no need to panic. Associations may not have the means for a web team army or an employee dedicated to all things Google updates and analytics, nor do they need those things to succeed.
It is worth noting that this will impact traffic generated by mobile searches and should not, as of now, have any impact on visits from desktop devices (computers or laptops). Regardless of how much traffic you’re driving via mobile devices, it’s still very important for visitors have an optimized experience when accessing your website.
If you don’t feel ahead of the charge, let’s break this into two steps: review and research.
Step 1: What Mobile Friendly, Accessibility and Usability Really Mean
Google’s stance on being mobile friendly is pretty broad: users should get the most relevant and timely results regardless of where the information lives. But what does that actually mean? Our marketing technology guru Dave Sabol believes it comes down to two key factors: accessibility and usability. These aren’t new concepts for good web design—they are what any solid website should be built upon.
Accessibility means making content available to as many users as possible by eliminating web barriers (this could be anything from double-checking embedded media to providing alternate content for those with visual disabilities). Web accessibility is an important consideration regardless of what device you’re developing for. Google just decided to make it a lot more important for search.
Usability means how good or bad, easy or difficult is a user’s experience on your website? If your content isn’t easy to understand or doesn’t concisely answer visitors’ key questions, they will leave. Make sure you’re reminding members why your website offers the best, most informative experience.
Step 2: Association Resources for Jumping into the Mobile Journey
Reviewing the previous terms should take some of the fear out of Google’s recent algorithm changes. If your association isn’t in the position to overhaul website design or switch over to a responsive template, that’s okay. There are always incremental changes you can make along the way regarding accessibility and overall user experience.
If you’d like to dive in further, check out some of Higher Logic’s favorite resources on this topic: