I’m about to get curmudgeonly. And this is NOT an April Fool’s prank…
On March 18th, I started getting emails from Google.
They wanted to let me know that some of the sites I own are not “mobile friendly.”
And that I have until April 21st to get this taken care of, or face their wrath.
If you have one or more websites that you manage, this is critically important. If you’re not aware of it yet, you need to be.
Google has established standards for what “mobile friendly” entails — and if you’re not, you’re going to suffer their wrath…
Now, in general, I’m pretty supportive of Google when they do their infamous “slaps.”
That’s when Google makes some big change in their algorithms that often totally slaughters traffic to bad websites.
Google knows that EVERYTHING they do hinges on user experience. If users get too many bad results in their search results — whether we’re talking the organic search listings, or the ads — they’ll stop using Google.
And if users stop using Google, ad revenue will dry up. And Google will be kaput.
And so Google works very hard to ensure that whatever links they give you when you search will deliver you a high-quality experience.
Now, because there’s literally more than a billion users at stake in the Google traffic stream, there’s a lot of motivation to manipulate Google. To do things that get around Google’s algorithms with lower-quality user experiences. To insert your site as a “middleman” and collect ad revenue from search traffic, for example.
And so from time to time Google decides that a particular loophole people are using to get their websites at the top of the rankings is delivering a sub-par experience, and they shut it down.
For the ne’er-do-wells, traffic plummets. For the good sites that deliver a good experience, traffic usually surges.
And users are left with a better experience of using the internet, through Google search.
The way around all these Google slaps — in the past — has been simple.
In short, it’s encompassed in the “Golden Rule.”
Yeah, the original one… “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Applied to websites… Don’t create a lame, sucky website that delivers a crappy user experience just to game the system and make a quick buck by manipulating the flow of traffic from Google. Instead, create a quality site with quality content and a quality user experience, and you’ll be mostly immune.
In short, Google has rewarded people that create good, useful websites. And punished folks who create crap websites that don’t add any value to the internet.
All of this is GREAT, I think…
That said, I totally disagree with what Google is doing with “Mobilegeddon…”
And while I’m going to roll over and comply, I won’t do it without complaint.
I had the first iPhone. I’ve been using the internet on mobile devices for years.
And I’ve come to develop some pretty strong opinions about websites’ mobile usability.
A website can comply with Google’s new mobile usability rules 100% — and still suck to use on your phone!
What I find is that a lot of sites that are so-called “mobile-friendly” sacrifice even simple readability or usability (and often, significant amounts of their website content) just to comply with the mobile usability standards.
Now, I’m NOT saying that all mobile websites suck. What I am saying though is that if a website is reasonably designed to be readable and usable on a computer, I’m just as happy zooming into the desktop version of the site on my phone as dealing with some crappy “mobile-optimized” version of the site.
I’ve pretty much always considered usability and readability on all platforms when designing websites…
In fact, I was talking to a reader about the mobile usability of many businesses’ websites a while back. He was complaining about how few websites were mobile friendly. And how it was easy to install plugins or alternate themes on websites that would make them mobile-friendly.
I then mentioned that the theme on Breakthrough Marketing Secrets was not a mobile-responsive theme, and he paused for a second. Then he complimented the design and said how much he liked it — and how usable it was on a mobile device despite not being officially “mobile-friendly.”
Being curious, I tried installing one of the “mobile-responsive” plugins on my site… Just to see how it would impact REAL user experience. I found that the quality of the experience was less on mobile with the supposedly mobile-friendly plugin than it was when the site was supposedly unfriendly to mobile devices…
That’s right — by making my site technically more mobile-friendly, my experience was that it was less mobile-friendly.
And so I promptly un-installed that plugin!
There’s a lot of potential explanations for this.
The most obvious being, maybe that particular mobile plugin sucked.
And I’ll concede that may be the case.
But the point I’m trying to make is that when you come up with a technical definition for what will create a better experience, you’re NOT necessarily going to create a better experience.
And I think Google is risking this big-time here.
That said, you can expect some changes in design here at Breakthrough Marketing Secrets, soon. Some have already taken place. Because in the land of the internets, Google is king. And you disobey at your peril.
I’ve already installed another mobile plugin as a “bridge” to the new requirements. (And passed Google’s test with flying colors.)
For WordPress users, you may care that the solution I settled on was “Any Mobile Theme,” which I used to default to the WordPress Twenty-Fifteen theme if you’re on a mobile device. This is a temporary solution as I plan to move off the mobile un-friendly Profits Theme, likely in favor of the already mobile-responsive Optimize Press.
Long-term, I’ll try to put my curmudgeonly instinct aside and try to use more mobile-responsive design out of the gate. (That won’t really be an option going forward.)
For you, if you’re not already actively implementing solutions on your sites, it’s time to get going.
Because after April 21st, you’re going to feel the wrath of Google if you haven’t acted already.
I don’t know if that’s a breakthrough, but it is what it is.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
Editor, Breakthrough Marketing Secrets
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