Is Your Site Mobile-Friendly?

Is Your Site Mobile-Friendly?

The New Google Ranking Factor Could Up-End Search Results.

If you’ve performed a Google search on your smartphone lately, you may have noticed that each listing is pre-faced with “mobile-friendly”. This is to indicate to users that this website will show up on users’ smartphones in a usable way (no pinching and zooming a gigantic website).

But Google is taking is a step further, and is suggesting that your website’s mobile-friendliness will be a major ranking factor in the near-future.

How ‘Near-Future’ is Google Talking Here?

Google has already started sending out mobile usability warnings to webmasters if their websites fail to meet Google’s criteria for mobile-friendliness. If you have a Google Webmaster Tools account, you can check to see if you have any recent messages from Google regarding your website.

As for when it becomes a major factor in ranking your website, you can bet that by May at the latest you will likely see a major algorithm change that will implement mobile-friendliness. Google released a Panda update last May, and you can bet that they will release a new version of Panda around that time this year. The Panda-updates, as you may be aware, deal with filter out low-quality websites by evaluating the on-page content. Mobile-friendliness and on-page content go hand in hand.

Ways To Make Your Site Mobile-Friendly:

There are two major ways to make your site mobile friendly: use a responsive theme (responsive means that the website automatically adjusts to the size of the user’s screen) or use a mobile-website plugin.

Option 1: Responsive Themes

Almost all major new WordPress themes are responsive. If you’re going the free route, you’ll want to search for websites that have ‘responsive’ in their keyword tags. For paid themes on sites like Themeforest.net, you can search for themes by filtering out any that aren’t responsive.

How does it work?

One example is Sahifa theme. It’s one of the most popular WordPress themes out there, so you’ve likely already seen websites that use it. The website itself changes based on the device that visits the webpage. Here’s an example of an external website that uses Sahifa:

http://coupontraveller.com/hotels-com-coupon-code/

Now, if you visit that page on your desktop, and then on your smartphone, you will find that the website looks vastly different. The content, the words and pictures, are all resized to fit your screen. This whole process is completely invisible, and involves no redirection.

If you can find a high quality responsive theme, this is the preferred method for making your website mobile-friendly.

Option 2: Install a Mobile Plugin

If you have a theme that isn’t responsive but you want to keep the theme, another option is to install a plugin that will create a mobile-friendly version of your website, like WP-Touch. These websites will create your website in mobile-form, and will then redirect smartphone users to a different version of your website. There are some drawbacks to this option:

  • The redirection isn’t always perfect: – Sometimes the plugin will detect a tablet or desktop PC as a mobile device and show them the mobile website…which looks terrible up on larger screens. Usually there’s no way manually select the ‘desktop’ version of the site, either.
  • The Plugins Don’t Match Your Site’s Look: – WP-Touch, for example, will make your website look like all the other websites that use WP-Touch. It strips out all the colors and stylings that make your website unique. Your website’s titel will be in plain lettering instead of that fancy banner you created. There is a premium version of WP-Touch with more styling options, if you choose to go that route.
  • The mobile friendly site is a sub-domain, which could have SEO issues – When you visit the mobile site, the web address becomes “www.m.yoursite.com”, which is a subdomain. So if you have a really amazing article that people want to link to, your audience may link to your mobile web address accidentally, which can dilute your link juice. Subdomains and domains have different domain authority in Google’s eyes.

Free Tool: Check Your Site With Google!

If you aren’t sure if your website is mobile-friendly or not, Google has created a free tool for you to check your website here:

https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/

Is SSL the New SEO?

Is SSL the New SEO?

There may be a new requirement for webmasters in the world of 2014 and beyond: mandatory SSL-certified websites.

While, not exactly mandatory. But if you want to rank well in Google, then you’ll probably going to need to encrypt your website.

Let’s back up a sec: Google hosted an event called “HTTPS Everywhere“. During the event they mentioned that whether a website is SSL-encrypted is now part of Google’s ranking algorithm. It’s a “weak signal”, they said, but only because they wanted to give webmasters some time to start adding these certificates before they strengthened the “SSL ranking signal”.

I’m sure you fellow webmasters have tons of questions. We can answer as many as we can:

  • What is an SSL Certificate? – The “SSL” stands for “secure-socket layer”. The certificate essentially creates an added layer of encryption between your website and the visitor. This ensures that no one is eavesdropping on your interactions on a website (i.e. copying your credit card information or passwords). Previously only online commerce sites and websites where people entered passwords were advised to add an SSL certificate. Now it seems that every website should get one.
  • Why is Google doing this? – One theory out there is that Google wants to stamp out the NSA’s ability to spy on people. Since SSL only stops one type of cyber-crime (surveillance), Now, what’s Google’s motive here? Will the NSA be forced to pay for Google’s information once the surveillance racket dies away? It’s basically impossible to really know the real answer. And for us webmasters on the ground floor, it doesn’t matter.
  • How much of a ranking boost will I get? – Right now, it’s a weak signal among over 200 other signals that Google uses. So it’s not going to make you jump to the first page when you languishing on page 8. It can help in a tiebreaker situation, where your website is tied with another website that does not have HTTPS. But the signal is going to strengthen over time. And when that happens (which will likely be without warning), your website will unexpectedly start rising. Isn’t that a cool feeling?
    In other words you should get HTTPS because it will future-proof your website.
  • How Much Does an SSL Certificate Cost? – The cost varies widely based on the what kind and where you buy it from. Since GoDaddy’s the biggest domain registrar, we checked them and found that a standard SSL costs $49.99/year. That’s pretty steep. But a quick Google search found some coupon codes to knock 30% off that price. Namecheap has a coupon for Comodo SSL for $4.99/year, which is really good as well.
  • Are There Free SSL Certificates? Yes, but buyer beware. The OpenSSL “Heartbleed Bug” became such a problem mostly because the free, open-source software wasn’t maintained. StartSSL has a great reputation. But you’ll also need to know what type of server your website is hosted on: (i.e. Apache). Also if your website is hosted on a shared web server, then most web hosts have strict policies about adding SSL encryption to their servers. They are likely just trying to make sure you buy their products, but make sure your web allows 3rd party SSL certificates before trying to install one.

Articles Mentioned In This Post:

HTTPS Everywhere event.