New Google Algorithm Change Coming: Are You Ready
Google made internet news recently when they did something completely out of character; they gave advance notice about a change in their algorithm. On April 21st, the importance of having a mobile friendly site will increase because Google is making it more of a ranking factor.
So what does this all mean for your website? Keep reading for information about what you need to pay attention to and how you can prepare yourself for the newest change coming to the Google algorithm in April.
First Things First
Before we begin, it’s important to stress how big of a deal this new update is; its going to have a significant impact on search engine results. In fact, it is expected that its effect will be bigger than Penguin or Panda.
To get prepared for this change, Google has become extremely proactive by adding a Mobile Usability feature to their Google Webmaster toolbox and are even sending emails to website owners to notify them of mobile usability issues.
Some of the most common issues that websites must fix in order to be ready for the change in the Google Algorithm include:
Your Viewport is Not Configured or You have a Fixed-width Viewport
If you receive this or a similar message from Google, this means that your site needs to be made responsive. A responsive site will scale to size automatically across devices used to access it. In this way, there is no need for website owners to have a second mobile site and this provides users with the same experience on all devices.
The Touch Elements on Your Site are too Close Together
This issue means that the click-able items on your page are located too close together. This type of issue leads to a lot of misclicks, or clicking the wrong link by mistake; a very annoying glitch that can cause you to lose traffic because of user frustration.
Based on recommendations from Google, tag targets should have a viewport that has been properly configured and be approximately 48 CSS pixels tall/wide. If you have no choice but to make them smaller, add more spacing to prevent misclicking. Also, make sure that all tap targets are at least 32 CSS pixels of each other, both vertically and horizontally.
3.The Font Size is too Small
This issue looks pretty cut and dry but, before you go about fixing this problem, it is important to make sure that your viewpoint has been properly configured. Per Google’s recommendations, your font size should contain the following elements:
- Your base font size should be at least 16 CSS pixels. The properties of the font being used will determine the appropriate size
- In order to define the typographical scale, use sizes that are relative to the base size
- Text should have vertical space between the characters and be adjusted based on the font.1.2em is the recommended browser default line-height
- Limit the number of fonts and font sizes that you use on your page, too many variations on the typographic scale looks messy and your page layout will be unnecessarily complicated
Viewpoint Incorrectly Configured for Content
Once your viewpoint has been properly set up, you can’t just set it and forget it; you have to remember to set the content as well. Fixed-width elements can still affect your responsive website and cause them to be unusable on tablets and smartphones. To be proactive take note of the following:
- Make sure that all of your large elements (like images) are using a fixed-width
- Utilize CSS media queries to provide smaller screens with different styling than those of the larger screens
- Your content should be set to more than one viewport width
Creating A Responsive Website
By taking all of these proactive steps, Google is sending a clear message; if you want to rank on their search engines, it is important that you make your website responsive. But that’s not all, they are also doing their best to help entrepreneurs transition by creating a complete guide to mobile friendly sites.
If this tool happens to send you a message that says that your site isn’t mobile friendly, you will also be provided with the information you need to make the necessary changes. The only problem with this tool is that it only works on one page at a time so, checking your whole website may not be exactly feasible.
A better option, perhaps, would be the Mobile Usability section in the Google Webmaster toolbox. Doing so will provide you will a complete list of the pages that Google found to be unresponsive and that are in need of improvement. The simplest way of all to check the responsiveness of your site is by resizing your browser window. If the website doesn’t change size to where it’s compatible to the newly sized wind, then your site isn’t a responsive one.
If your site is not optimized for use across all platforms and you don’t have the time or the technical expertise to do it yourself, don’t be afraid to ask professionals for help. In the meantime, following the above tips will help you get prepared for when this update hits and help to make your website user-friendly as well. Get started today and see what works for you!