Mobile algorithm update

Google made an unprecedented announcement that it was splitting its desktop and mobile ranking algorithm from 21st of April. The announcement is unusual as it puts an exact date on an algorithm update.

This is the highlighted excerpt from Google webmaster central.

Google-blog-about-mobile-friendly-search

As an update Google Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller answered questions in the weekly webmaster central hangout.


Before now SEO experts were using the same practice for both desktop and mobile optimisation – SERP was SERP regardless of desktop or mobile platform. Google has always urged webmasters to make their website mobile friendly in view of the growing large shift of traffic from mobile devices. The announcement says that from 21st April non mobile friendly sites can expect a drop in rankings.

Any Effective on Desktop?

Whether or not this mobile algorithm update will have any effect on desktop remains unclear but many people think there is a link now or in the near future. What was also not clear is whether the mobile-friendly update will apply site-wide or on a page by page basis. The difference will be important to websites that have taken to Google’s preferred solution of dynamic website serving or separate mobile site. The distinction could be important to people knowing whether their site will be hit site-wide or just a few pages.

Responsive web design the way to go

What this means is that we cannot emphasise any more times about the importance of responsive design solutions. The problem is solved because responsive sites have an exact one-one relationship between desktop and mobile. This has been the stated preferred solution of Google so we can assume responsive design themed websites will see an immediate boost compared to other solutions. Google has also gone a long way in supporting webmasters to make their sites more mobile-friendly through schemes like Mobile Usability Report to Google Webmaster Tools. Google has released a mobile friendliness testing tool to further assist webmasters.

Chrome Developer Tools Emulation Mode

Testing our websites has become a complex exercise for webmasters. Back in the day it was complete after verifying functions of a couple of browsers. However new websites must now be tested on a variety of platforms including mobile, tablets, desktop devices as well as various operating systems and screen resolutions and capabilities – touch-screens and HD displays..

In some cases it can take the same amount of time as website development. Building code on just a PC will not allow you to appreciate the various other devices that consumers might consume media. The challenge is knowing how to test various systems without the need to switch amongst various devices.

 

Chrome Emulation mode

Happily the latest version of Chrome V32 (google.com/chrome) has come to our aid with its new Emulation mode in developer mode.

This helps to identify how your masterpiece will render on various devices without leaving your PC You just need to start the browser, navigate to the website you are testing, open up Developer Tools and choose your emulation setting from a plethora of devices, platforms and resolutions.

 

Devices

The devices section has all the most popular devices such as iPhones, iPads, Nexus Tablets, Samsung Galaxy devices etc

Screens

the screen setting lets you set things like Apple Retina display with twice resolution of viewport User Agent This will show how your work will be viewed in every device if you wish to go that deep.

Sensors

Sensors this gives you device emulation such as touch, geoloaction and even accelerometer

 

User Agent

The user agent can be tricked enabling client and server-side code to act as apprpriate. This save you enabling the user agent switcher Chrome addons.

 

Chrome Developer Tools Emulation Mode is not perfect so give it a go and perhaps test on real life devices as a double check.

Google Webmaster Guidelines – Back to Basics

Webmaster guidelines are the basic rules that Google provides to make it easier to crawl your website. In an internet world that is full of experts it is always good to review the guidelines every now and then.

Google webmaster guidelines are split into three levels as follows:

1)      Technical Guidelines

2)      Quality guidelines.

3)      Design and content guidelines.

We take a brief look at each:

Technical Guidelines

Google Webmaster tools Technical Guidelines

You should know that Google bot works on the text written words so java script, frames, flash and session IDs will restrict the amount of content it can index.

You should make use of robots.txt file to tell Google bot about any content you don’t want indexed.

If you use a content management system (CMS), then make sure it produces pretty links and not urls with extended IDs that do not describe the page.

Make sure that there is not much restricting the load from loading fast as load times are now a (small) ranking factor.

Quality Guidelines

Google Webmaster tools Quality Guidelines

These guidelines are aimed at not tricking search engines. For instance you should avoid putting different content for users and search engines. Google also gives an outlet if you believe another site is abusing these guidelines and flying under their radar. You have the ability to report them through a dedicated website for Google webmaster tools spam report. It’s all bout main ethos of Google of giving users great experience by providing unique content that adds value to surfers and the internet in general.

A good rough guide is to ask yourself if you would put out the same content if it was not for search engines.

They also ask that you should avoid web scrapping programs aimed at constantly checking your rankings though this is difficult to avoid all together in the work of an SEO consultant.

Design & content Guidelines

 

Google Webmaster tools Design & Content GuidelinesThese are very important guides as they relate to the structures of the site and its effect on crawling ability. For instance, if every page is not reachable from another then it could be tantamount to sending the Google spider done a dead end road. This can easily be fixed by making sure the sidebar navigation somehow connects to every page on site.

As far as content is concerned Google asks that it be informative and avoid churnalism type of repeating the same content as many other places elsewhere.

You should do keyword search and make sure you use those words that users of that text will type into a search engine to find it.

You should check for broken links via webmaster tools and other sources and try to fix them.

You should also ensure that your page titles and meta tags are descriptive of the content in the webpage.

Remember that each link from a page reduces its value so try to keep total number of links to a reasonable number.

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