On April 21 Google officially launched an important new algorithm which prioritizes "mobile ready" websites over those which are only formatted for desktops. The consequence, of course, is if you have a website that's not mobile ready, you should be prepared to see a dramatic drop in your search engine optimized (SEO) traffic. For many of us, as photographers, we also manage our own websites and find that SEO traffic is very important in getting our product out to a potential customer.
The news comes as no surprise as usage of mobile devices has skyrocketed over the last few years. More than half of Google's searches now come from a mobile device. The new update is seen as a necessary evolution in the Google search engine experience; One that Google feels is owed to its many mobile device users. Take a look at the graph below by comScore, which demonstrates how mobile usage has supplanted desktop usage as the main medium for computing needs.
How will the update affect my website?
This update is expected to be a big change to Google's searching experience; Even more so than the previous update — code-name Panda — which affected 11 percent of websites. Photo portfolios and studio websites which are not mobile ready webpages will appear lower in Google's search engine results. A non-mobile ready photography site can expect a drop of about two-thirds of their traffic, versus pre-update traffic.
How can I find out if my website is mobile ready?
Google has kindly provided a service for just that. They call it the Mobile-Friendly Test Page. From here you can simply place your website's URL into their algorithm and it will let you know how it reads it. They've also provided several pages full of information on dos and don'ts as well as common mistakes and more.
A photography website's appeal to their algorithm is multifaceted, however there are a few that are more straightforward. One of the variables that the algorithm checks for includes text size, or having a text that's readable without zooming. Flash isn't always supported by mobile devices and photo websites who use it will be punished. In addition, having links that are well spaced so that they're easily touched, avoiding other unplayable content, and a mobile-specific URL (example: mobile.website.com).
How can I improve my photography website to be mobile ready?
There may not be any need to completely overhaul your site. One important distinction to note is that Google's algorithm is actually applied page by page, and not to an entire website. This is useful information because it means we can work on individual pages to improve our SEO traffic. Most specifically, it means working on pages that get more traffic than others: home pages, galleries, and so on.
Several hosting companies are offering to make mobile-ready versions of your site. Bluehost is offering it for a one-time fee of $25, whereas GoDaddy is offering the same service at $1 per month. A third-party company, Duda Mobile, is offering a similar service for $5 per month.
Why not look at this as an opportunity?
Here's a chance to be proactive and climb in Google's search engine results. More than two-thirds of Fortunate 100 companies aren't mobile friendly, according to research firm SumAll. Potential clients are clearly using mobile phones to look at potential hires now more than ever, and this trend is clearly going to continue. We may only be a few years from the desktop versions being viewed as the lesser in priority. For me personally, I know my website isn't up to par yet. It's time to crack some knuckles and get to work.
[via The Next Web]