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When journalists add the suffix "-geddon" to an event or trend, you can usually be assured that it's not nearly as disastrous as it sounds. This is more or less the case with the so-called "Mobilegeddon," Google's April 21 change that gives a boost to mobile-friendly sites in mobile search results.
This algorithm change means that sites that aren't considered "mobile-friendly" by Google could sink to the bottom of mobile search results. Sites that do pass the test get the "mobile-friendly" stamp of approval (really — see screenshot below) and appear toward the top of search results.
In reality, this change isn't the end of the world for your website if you haven't yet optimized for mobile. But it should serve as a prod to get a mobile strategy in place for your nonprofit's website. No matter what Google, Bing, or Yahoo! do with their search algorithms, your constituents need to be able to access your services and information via a mobile device.
While "Mobilegeddon" sounds super scary and destructive, here are a few facts to keep you grounded about what it actually is:
Google's "mobile-friendly" test checks the following:
These are the issues you should plan to address if your site is not mobile-friendly.
Google's Mobile Usability feature can help you identify mobile usability issues.
Google offers a few other tools to help you survive its algorithm change:
And if you need help, you can always ask questions (and find answers!) at Google's Webmaster Central Help Forum.
If you haven't even started work on your mobile strategy, don't let these algorithm changes send you into a tizzy. The work that you do to support your mission should not halt or be delayed to fix your website.
However, Mobilegeddon should serve as yet another reminder that you should be thinking about your mobile strategy:
"Those who rely on your nonprofit's services, as well as your donors and volunteers, increasingly expect to use your organization's website on their mobile devices. By prioritizing mobile-friendly websites in search results, 'Mobilegeddon' reminds nonprofits of what we already know: we should provide constituents, donors, and volunteers with a good experience on a nonprofit website regardless of which device they are using," said Karen Coppock, vice president for strategy at TechSoup.
Furthermore, Google's long-term plans for its algorithm remain unknown, as do the plans for other search engines, such as Bing and Yahoo! Statements made by members of Google's search team indicate that the company is still in an experimental stage with using mobile-friendly criteria in search results. So even if your search results rankings aren't affected by this algorithm change, it is entirely possible that search engines will make mobile-friendliness an increasingly important part of their search rankings in the future.
We've got donated and discounted products in our catalog to help you take your nonprofit's website mobile:
Image: Carlos Urrutia / CC BY-NC-SA
Ginny Mies is a Content Curator at TechSoup Global.
I can't help but observe that TechSoup's website IS NOT MOBILE FRIENDLY. Doesn't it seem odd that Tech Soup is telling others how important and easy it is to be mobile friendly while not following it's own advice? What gives?? Is this how thought leadership is supposed to work?
Thanks for publishing this guide.
"Without a viewport, mobile devices will display your page at desktop screen width, scaled to fit the screen." Not true if you simply do not insist on a fixed width on your page. For the simplest example, consider a page that consists of only one single, long paragraph. Any browser will present the type in that paragraph as the default type size, and wrap the words to fit the width of whatever the browser-width is.
The problem of mobile-friendly pages applies to sites that (in my view mistakenly) assumed, in the mid-aughties, that everyone was looking at web pages in a browser between 800 and 1200 pixels wide, and so made those horrible pages that don't shrink without truncation—They're even annoying on large screens when you want to view windows side by side. The only width that should be fixed is that of tables, and that of page-components that can be read both left-to-right or top-to-bottom, using align:right. We should avoid unnecessarily making content that must be viewed in a port wider than a few hundred pixels.
rlgreen: You’re absolutely correct that our site isn’t yet mobile-friendly, but we are working on it. We acknowledge that mobile optimization isn't always easy (or we would have done it already!), but it is important (that's why we're working on it and encouraging nonprofits to do the same).
energytechsoup: helpful comment, thank you. The advice regarding viewports came from the Google Developers site (developers.google.com/.../ConfigureViewport). However, as you noted, it doesn't really apply if 1) your page doesn't have fixed-width elements or 2) all elements on your page can be viewed on a port that's a few hundred pixels wide (and you don't want to control how those elements appear in relation to each other). Thumbs-up on your mobile-friendly site, by the way!
Thanks to both of you for reading and for commenting!
This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License.
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