Hello and Welcome!
First up, sorry for the absence of a newsletter last week.
It was my old friend’s funeral and I just couldn’t get myself to focus on anything else.
We certainly gave him an excellent send-off, both at the service and at the much-longer-than-planned wake in the pub afterwards.
Now for something that is very important – and a little bit scary – if you have a website or plan to build one…
~# Are you ready for ‘Mobilegeddon’? #~
What’s it all about and, more importantly, how might it affect you?
Here is the low-down…
Today – Tuesday, April 21st – Google is implementing a major change to its mobile search algorithm to reflect the fact that more and more people are using their mobile devices – smart phones and tablets – to access the internet.
In fact, 60% of all people now go online with mobile devices rather than clunky desktop computers.
The problem, as Google sees it, is that most website owners have not kept up with the times.
They are still using the same old websites they have always done. They look fine on a large desktop monitor but not so good on smaller screens.
To get around these websites, mobile users have to scroll left and right and up and down and continually ‘pinch’ the screen to read the tiny, tiny writing.
Google’s answer is to start favouring mobile-friendly websites in the search results for mobile device users.
These will be the ones that show large, easy to read text, easy to see and click links, right-sized images and generally resize to fit whatever size of screen they are viewed on.
Google is always looking to give its users a good experience using its search engine and so they don’t want them fiddling around trying to consume content on websites that aren’t designed to be viewed on small screens.
Google actually announced these changes way back in February to give webmasters time to modify their websites and avoid them disappearing from mobile search results.
Despite this, many have not taken action and are going to be caught napping.
I have to hold my hands up and admit this managed to catch me by surprise and I only got round to doing something on Friday.
So what does this mean for you?
Well, if you have any websites that are not ‘mobile friendly’ and they are currently ranking in Google, you will start to see them falling down the search results.
If a significant amount of your traffic comes from Google, this could have a very big impact on your earnings and it is an impact that could be very difficult and time-consuming to recover from.
But you should pay attention to this change if you have websites, even if you do not rely on Google for traffic.
60% (and growing every day) of the traffic to your websites is made up of people using mobile devices.
If you are not giving them a good ‘mobile-friendly’ experience, you will definitely not be getting the conversions and sales you should be.
So you should take action in any case.
But what action?
The answer may be ‘none’.
The majority of websites out there have been created using WordPress.
And the good news is that most WordPress themes (essentially the layout of the site) are already mobile-friendly.
In ‘technical’ terms, they are ‘device responsive’ i.e. they resize depending on the device being used.
So, if you have WordPress sites, your first step is to check whether or not you have one of these themes.
Doing this is very quick and easy.
Just go to Google’s own ‘mobile-friendly’ website checker here…
Type in the URL of your website and click the ‘Analyze’ button.
It may take a couple of minutes, but Google will come back and either congratulate you or tell you that you have problems.
Note that the check is for your home page only and you will need to repeat the process for all key pages on your website.
If you get the ‘Awesome! This page is mobile-friendly’ message, you are good to go.
But what if you get the scary red ‘Not mobile-friendly’ message?
If this is a WordPress site, the odds are that you are not using a device responsive theme and simply switching to one that is will get you past the Google test.
This was the situation that hit me on Friday when I belatedly checked my own websites.
Most of them were built with something called OptimizePress version 1, which is not mobile friendly. (Probably because they want me to upgrade to version 2, which is.)
So where can you find device responsive WordPress themes?
You can pay for them or you can do what I did and grab one for free from this excellent website…
There you will find no fewer than 50 themes, all of which are mobile ready.
Which you choose is up to you. I opted for the clean and simple ‘Sparkling’ theme.
This can’t be a WordPress tutorial, but switching themes is simply a case of uploading the new theme and activating it in your WordPress admin dashboard.
Once you have switched themes, put your website through the Google checker again and you should be fine.
If so, you should then go through all of your website pages to make sure everything is as it should be.
It may be that your old theme had features that the new theme does not and you need to make some ‘tweaks’.
So far, so good.
But what if you have a mobile-unfriendly website that is not based on WordPress?
It is not so easy to correct the situation in this case.
My recommendation is to switch your website over to WordPress.
This may take a fair amount of time but it is probably less time than it would take to make an HTML site mobile-friendly.
Anyway, you really should be using WordPress for your websites because it is so easy to use and there are endless themes, plugins and widgets you can use to do all sorts of cool stuff that would take a technical wizard to achieve in HTML.
~# Nifty Free Resource Of The Week #~
This is an easy one.
Even if ‘Mobilegeddon’ doesn’t bother you, you should check out the 50 great WordPress themes here…
All of these themes are completely free, even though they are as good as, or even better than, many of the themes you have to pay for.
Plus, as already noted, all of the themes are ‘mobile-friendly’ out of the box.
~# And Finally… #~
With the passing of one of my oldest friends, I have been in need of some cheering up.
Something that never fails to make me chuckle is the movie ‘Return of the Pink Panther’ with the comic genius Peter Sellers as incompetent police inspector Clouseau.
Here is just one hilarious scene where our hero tries to take a bath…
My best regards
P.S. In case you are checking, no iMarketForce.com is not yet mobile-friendly. I have a fair few websites and it’s on the to-do list.