In a recent Indie-author group’s Q&A they bravely embarked on the subject of Google’s announcement of their demand on websites becoming mobile ready and penalising websites that do not meet their exactly criteria by lowering people/businesses ranking on their side of the worldwide web.
The fact is that this entire area is an entirely minefield and if not careful authors/publishers can find themselves throwing a substantial amount of time, money, and resources at it and still not getting a ROI.
The reality is that this introduction is new and still in its infancy. There will be sources on the internet who will tell you they can resolve this for you, but they themselves will have only begun to grapple with this so do not yet have the width & breath of knowledge as they could only begun to experiment.
Some will tell you they have mobile ready websites – in effect they will have the setting on their site where you can tick a box to say you want it to be viewable on mobile. Others have setting in html 5 where you can set the entire site to be viewable on mobile ready. There are still hundreds of thousands of websites out there that are still on html 4 because of transitional costs or needing to spend time and money starting all over again which has caused some sources not to yet change (but sadly they will not have a viable alternative before too long). No developer has more experience than the months Google have made available the criteria for bring websites up to their criteria – not not be simply taken in my the iCT industry sales language of ‘Internet of Things to Come!!
Do not misunderstand – there are a lot of good iT websites/suppliers out there!
There are folios of guidance, instructions, and codes issued by Google for webmasters and developers and it is doubtful that any website yet has been able to tick ALL the boxes to say everything demanded, (and it is huge), is fulfilled. It has to be a transitional journey and to panic people/business by thrusting the big stick and demanding ALL the changes otherwise punishable by reducing ranking is somewhat questionable. See Google Test Tool to check out your website(s).
There does, however need to be a starting point and some deterrent/incentive needs to be in place to entice/cajole/encourage websites to move on and change otherwise people will just ignore – hence, I suspect, the methodology behind the way Google have done this.
So much has to be considered which I could not possibly cover in this posting which is long enough as it is, from colours, to fonts, to font sizes, to spacing, to use (or not of Flash) and it goes on. Look at your website, an you read EVERYTHING is says or are parts a bit small to read? Do you use Flash images, (find on desk/laptops) but a no, no, on mobile devices, which will show gaps. You can still use for the former but in the settings it is important that you adopt a secondary image that would be viewed when in mobile mode. Then ensuring they has a relevant url link that directs people to where you want them to go….if front age the mind-set has to change to where would the viewer want to go so targeted need, rather than what we think would be good.
How many of you have opened up a webpage on a mobile, looked at the drop down menu, (and depending on whether you are a ‘finger’ or ‘thumb’ person), pressed on a page but because your finger or thumb is bigger than the screen space, accidentally opened up a page you did not want!!!???
Some of this stuff is not new and as far back at the early part of the millennium the RNIB issued guidance for people with visual impairment/dyslectic and some what is now required for a different reason – mobile’ actually correlates to the sort of suggestions that were being suggest but alas the RNIB and those who have such impairments do not have the clout and influence that Google have!
There is another dimension to consider. Yes, have a mobile friendly website is good given the stats that show people use mobiles more than telephones or even view televisions, and ranking is great, but ranking is not just about being mobile viewable, and the algorithms used revolves around a whole permutation of other consideration such as the number of visitors to your site; re-returning visitors; links clicked on; likes; other sites you have which are inter-connected and how they are, or will be used (or not); connecting social media, and again a host of other things.
Ranking – important, yes, we have our loyally supporters/readers/stakeholders and visits to return and that is good, but thee is also a large audience out there that we want to engage with. It is also important to focus on looking at the site from a viewers eyes and ensure that it provides what they want, not what we think they want. The website(s) journey should strive to seamlessly interconnect so it can travel to and from wherever viewers wish to view and have relevant updated content – otherwise it becomes a ‘brochure’ once read you put it to one side and do not look at again – no point, nothing new to look at a 2nd time.
Same of a website, if it is static and viewer see ostensibly the same things again and again each time they visit they will drift but if there is something that is updated and changes people, (if only out of curiosity, but hopefully interest), they will be inclined revisit.
All these things Google also analyse and counts towards ranking far more then even being mobile viewer ready – check your websites trough the search engine. Then the last important point before I run out of paper to type – Google is a major player, no news there, but the saying do not rely on all your eggs in one basket springs to mind. Do you just reply on someone Goggling your name, or book(s) – (assuming everyone knows either), to generate profile and sales – distribution outlets for Authors books are more likely to be with an amass of other specific book distributors so do not lose sight of these important outlets and continue on the journey on improving month-on-month/year-on-year. For all the visitors/readers/stakeholders who visit you there are more likely to generate income – and actually are ALL discoverable and count towards the algorithm that make up your Google ranking as well.
So be aware of how you go about and use to update your website(s) to be mobile viewable; do not be taken in by even some experienced developers who will charge you and may not be able to delivery all that Google ask (they are valuable techies who are about making money rather than concerned with Authors/Publishers), and will bed with any profession/industry that will pay their fees.
1) Look at your websites through the eyes of others to critique as to what they see and what they want.
2) Speak with friends and try different devices to see what it looks like. iPhone/Pad, other tablet, Samsung, Android, Blackberry, or which ever. Can you see, (read), negotiate, and move around easily to find things especially what you want?
3) Pre-determine what you need before you ask/pay for someone to change your site(s) so you have a clear objectively/outcome and any fees are based on delivering this or all bets off, no money!
4) Make sure it is not only html 5 but it can handle your subscriptions, mailing lists – e.g. connects with php and MySQL code – many ISP sites will immediately shy away, (especially free ones), and even others cannot cope, suggest third parties, or will try and demand exorbitant fees.
5) Make sure that ALL, or as many of your website presences are brought together with url links or windows from a single site; interconnect most (if not all) your social media – you want to dive people to the diverse support, information and sales services you can and all of this counts for ranks as well as a bonus.
6) Think content > readers/visits/stakeholders > delivery and you will not go far wrong even if there are also other ways.
There are hopefully no ‘Captain Mannering’s’ around indie-authors so please ‘don’t panic’ and innocently feel that you now have to immediately go out there and find someone to make mobile viewable and fall into the trap of spending more time, money, and resource on this than writing. Think, talk to friends and colleague, post questions and understand what you want, need to articulate a brief to anyone you engage to do this for you.
An interesting study or experiment might be that if you lose ranking because not Google complaint whether to use Google Adds (fee payable) and then measure losses in any revenue from reduced ranking verses any increased revenue from advertising as in theory by paying to advertise you are by design elevated by Google with your ranking and should be more viable with higher profile – if that is not the case then it demeans any value in paying Google to advertise } cost -v- income?
Which of these are Google fully ‘mobile friendly’ compliant – both or one?