The world of Local Search is rapidly shifting to mobile devices and that shift has accelerated at an ever-increasing pace. As a result, all of the Search Engines are concentrating on serving up the best results to searchers on mobile devices. Google has told us it is working towards having a mobile-only index and that only mobile-friendly pages will be eligible to be in that index.
This makes perfect sense when you consider your own experiences as a user on your smartphone or tablet, but what exactly does that mean for website owners?
Web pages that load too slowly will not be in the mobile index.
No one wants to wait while their mobile device struggles to properly render a webpage. Instead, we move on to another site that we can quickly see and interact with. In an effort to be the preferred Search Engine on smartphones and tablets, as well as on desktops, Google is focused on presenting searchers with only good options.
Google provides us with an easy-to-use free tool to check our page load times. It also guides us through what steps to take to make our pages load faster. While these suggestions are not tasks most of us can perform ourselves, you can run tests and show them to your webmaster for execution. Start by checking your home page and then move on to checking other important pages on your site. In many cases, fixing what needs to be done to the homepage will correct problems throughout the site as well.
Pages that provide a poor user experience will not be included in the mobile index.
We all know how frustrating it can be pinching and zooming to read a webpage with tiny font or trying to click on links that you’d have to have needle-thin fingers to hit. This is what is meant when we talk about a poor user experience.
Google also has a free tool to help us improve that aspect of our website. It also gives suggestions on how to improve mobile-friendliness, if needed. Log into your Google Webmaster Tools account to get Google’s advice on which pages need help with this aspect. This can be a real time saver for those with large websites.
What to expect on April 21st.
Right now, we don’t really know what’s going to happen on April 21st. However, the fact that Google has been so definite about what needs to be done and when is a crystal clear warning that you’d be crazy to ignore. There has been some speculation that this won’t effect Local Pack results, but I wouldn’t bet the farm on that. Test your pages now!