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You Need to Fix This NOW or Pay the Google Penalty

Recently Google implement two important changes in the way it serves up search results. The first requires immediate action from you. The second isn’t quite so urgent.

#1. Mobile Responsiveness now Required

If you want your site found when someone searches for it on a smartphone, it must be mobile friendly. There are some misconceptions floating around, but here are the facts.

When someone searches on a smartphone (not a tablet, just a smartphone), if your site isn’t mobile friendly it will sink in the search results. This does not affect searches on desktops and tablets. Note: Google determines this on a page-by-page basis, so don’t assume if your homepage is mobile friendly that every other page is!

Does this mean your site will never show up in search if it’s not mobile friendly? No. But it won’t rank as highly as it did. That’s because Google wants users to have a good experience with search. When someone is searching with a phone, it’s not a good experience to get a site that isn’t easy to read, or where buttons and links are hard to click.

If your business is local, you should make your site mobile responsive ASAP or you’ll likely miss a lot of walk-in and drive-in traffic. Even if your business isn’t local, if it’s not mobile responsive your traffic from search is likely to drop substantially. Google spokesmen are warning website owners that this will cause bigger changes than both Panda and Penguin did.

How do you make your site mobile responsive if it’s not already?

  1. Use a plugin
  2. Switch to a mobile responsive theme

Mobile Plugins

There are others, of course, but these are three of the most popular.

Mobile Responsive Themes

Switching to a mobile responsive theme is an excellent way to make sure your site is mobile friendly. Many — but not all — of the themes from my two preferred designers, StudioPress and Elegant Themes, are mobile responsive.

If you’re looking at StudioPress, every theme that includes “Pro” in its name is mobile responsive and HTML5 ready. If you’re interested in a theme that doesn’t call itself “Pro,” take a look at the description. If “mobile responsive” is listed, you’re good to go (although if you’re going to all the trouble of switching themes, I highly recommend picking a Pro theme for the HTML5 features).

To find the mobile responsive themes from Elegant Themes, follow this link.

To find out more about switching themes, read this.

Once you’ve made your changes, check out your site here to see whether Google considers it mobile friendly.

When I checked this site, I discovered that the Shareaholic plugin, which I use for social media sharing, is blocking Google from crawling its links. When Google can’t see something, it removes the desired “mobile friendly” designation. I’ve stopped using Shareaholic, and switched to Social Warfare.

If you’d like some help changing your WordPress theme to a mobile resonsive theme from Elegant Themes or StudioPress, contact me! I can help.

#2. Search Results will Show your Site’s Name, not the URL

Google is also rolling out another change. This one changes the way they display your site’s information. According to Joost de Valk, author of the WordPress SEO plugin:

“This change means that your site’s URL structure becomes even more important than it already was. Ugly URLs will be even more visible in the search results than before.”

This means that, instead of showing something like:
in the search results, they’ll show your domain name and breadcrumbs. It will look more like: > Prepping the Move > Countdown

Why do you need to make any changes? you may be wondering. . . Because it’s better for you to tell Google how you want it to look, instead of leaving it up to them to interpret.

If you use WordPress SEO, they’re making it easy for you. On April 21, they’ll release an updated version of the plugin and enter the information in the appropriate spot. If you don’t use this useful plugin, you’ll need to get involved in schema changes. But that’s another subject. . .