Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Google’s Mobile Friendly Update

Google Update Focused on Mobile Friendly WebsitesHave you Googled your business name from your mobile phone and desktop computer lately? Maybe you should. Google has been rolling out lots of changes to mobile apps, Google Play and the presentation of mobile search engine results. All of this was to prepare for a large algorithm release on April 21, 2015.  As with past Google algorithm changes (Penguin and Panda), these updates can greatly impact where your site ranks in search engine results pages (SERPs).

The update on April 21 was focused on providing a better search experience for mobile users. To accomplish this, Google “expanded its use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal.” So what does that mean to business owners? If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, your mobile search engine rankings could take a hit.

In an email sent to Webmasters, Google indicated they are looking at the following factors when determining if your website is mobile friendly or not.
  1. Content not sized to viewport – This means that the content of your website is not resizing to match the width of the viewer’s screen. This will result in text that is challenging for user to read and may cause a horizontal scroll bar making site navigation a challenge for the user. Do you have to pinch, pull or zoom to read your web pages on a mobile phone? If so, your site is probably not mobile-friendly.
  2. Touch elements too close – Links and buttons that are clickable on a mobile device need to be approximately 12-20 pixels apart to make for easy touching on a smaller screen. Having your buttons, links or other touch elements too close together will cause a usability issue and will  make your site not mobile friendly in Google’s algorithm. 
  3. Flash usage – Most mobile browsers do not render Flash-based content. Therefore, mobile visitors will not be able to use a page that relies on Flash in order to display content, animations, or navigation. When Steve Jobs declared “Flash is dead”, he was right!
The first thing you should do if you are concerned about this update, is run your website through Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test (https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly). If you get the following message, you are good to go.

However, if you get a message that looks something like the one below, then you’ll want to take immediate action.

The nice thing about this update, is that Google is telling webmasters exactly what they can do to make sure their websites are not negatively affected. If your website receives a not mobile-friendly message, here are the actions you can take to course correct and avoid a decrease in mobile ranking.

  1. Check with your webmaster. It’s possible that your website just needs a few tweaks to make it mobile friendly.  Make sure to get a few example sites from your webmaster and run them through the Google Test. If they pass, there is a good chance your webmaster can help make your website mobile friendly.
  2. Find a new provider. If your current provider cannot create a mobile or responsive site for you, it’s time to start looking for a new vendor. If you are looking for a new provider, make sure you find one who is well versed in Search Engine Optimization. You don’t want to create a new site with a mobile solution, only to jeopardize existing desktop rankings with non-optimized titles and a changing URL structure.
  3. Test and test again. Once you have a mobile solution in place, it’s important to check every page of your site to make sure all links work and all pages are loading properly.
Though it may seem reactive and hurried, website owners are going to have to adapt to the new mobile-centric, digital marketing universe. Since Google is the industry leader, when they give a command, it behooves business owners to follow. 

Is your website mobile-friendly? Have you been affected by Google’s recent update focusing on mobile? Let us know in the comments below.

Purposeful Networking

Face to face networking events are often a necessity as a business professional. They let you meet like-minded individuals, make important business connections and get your foot in the door with potential clients.  Here are a few tips to make your next networking event a success. 
Purposeful Networking
  1. Ask questions – apply the two ears one mouth principal; listen twice as much as you speak. Asking open ended questions, like “Why” or “How”, that require more than just a yes or no answer to help you build rapport with a new contact.
  2. Be a connector - instead of focusing only on making your own connections, make an effort to connect others. Having a robust network of people takes time to build. However, taking the time to cultivate relationships with people, in and out of your industry, will quickly make you the go-to person when something needs to be done quickly.
  3. Have a purpose - before you arrive at an event, ask yourself what you're hoping to achieve and what you need to do to achieve it. Many people go to an event hoping to meet a certain number of people. Challenge yourself to do something that may feel out of your comfort zone. Your goal could be to meet 3 new people or to have one meaningful conversation with a prospect.
  4. Bring business cards and other supplementary information – business cards are a no brainer, but depending on the type of event, you may also want to bring pamphlets or other supplementary material to hand out. Remember, people love promotional items! A pen with your company logo and contact information or an event specific item (logoed golf tees for a golf tournament) can help keep your contact information at hand when a potential client needs the services you offer.
  5. Be attentive – instead of constantly scanning the room to see who else is there. Give the person you are talking with your undivided attention. There’s nothing wrong with subtly steering a conversation to a close, however, avoid abruptly ending it to speak with someone else. Full attention requires eye contact and open body language.
  6. Shake hands and smile – research shows that shaking someone’s hand may increase the chances of having a positive interaction. Smiling liberally will help you seem approachable and will actually make you feel happier!
  7. Follow-up - if you've promised to send information or connect with someone, a good rule of thumb is to do it within 24-48 hours after the event. Waiting any longer may unintentionally convey disinterest. A follow-up email, phone call or hand written thank you card is a great way to continue the conversation with your new connection.
Being an effective networker means going into events with a purpose and a plan. A little bit of preparation before your next networking event could be what sets you apart from the pack. What are some of your best networking tips? Share them with us in the comments below.