As a webmaster, there’s a lot to remember if you want your site to ever be found through a cold search. Your site should be designed for SEO. It should feature interesting, usable content. The content on your site should be original and unique. And your site should be user-friendly, load quickly, and be easy to navigate by even the most tech-challenged visitor.
You might think if you’ve covered all these bases, that Google will be kind to you and feature your site high up in the search engine rankings. But there’s one small tweak you may have overlooked, and if it’s not addressed, Google has already promised to impact your traffic — if your site isn’t mobile-friendly, it’s going to have a hard time building readership.
Google is constantly releasing new algorithms and updates to existing algorithms and updates to updates of existing algorithms — all aimed at improving user experience. And the most recent update — the push to mobile optimization — was just rolled out last month. Google promised this one was coming back in 2013 to give webmasters plenty of time to become compliant.
As of mid-April of 2015, Google began downgrading sites that aren’t optimized for use on mobile phones, tablets and laptops. A downgrade means your site was re-positioned farther down the search rankings than before. In some cases, this effectively buried sites that were either late bloomers or new to the fray. And if you’re buried beyond the fifth page of Google search, most readers aren’t going to find you.
So if you’ve noticed a drop in traffic since last month, it may be that your site needs tweaking in the mobile-friendly department. You can check whether your site works well on mobile by plugging your URL into Google’s Mobile Friendly Testing Tool. This simple tool performs an instant, free analysis of your site and gives you instant feedback on whether you’ve achieved awesome status or if your presentation needs work. If you find that your URL doesn’t work well on mobile devices, you’ll want to set about fixing the issues as quickly as possible. There are a number of free and paid tools in cyberspace that will help you tweak your site to give it more portability. And once you’ve completed your upgrades and checked your status through the Google mobile tool, traffic to your site should resume as normal over time — provided you don’t have other Google penalties weighing you down.
Another tool you can use to improve your site’s performance includes the Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin if your site is powered by WordPress. This tool analyzes each post you write and walks you through increasing its SEO value. For instance, once you’ve selected a keyword or keyword phrase that describes your post, the Yoast plugin advises you where you need to place it — in your title, in the alt tags of your images, in your search description, etc. By using Yoast, you’ll discover whether your SEO is bad, good or great, and each improvement you make will help your site just that much more. Yoast has the added benefit of teaching you good SEO habits to use when producing content off-site as well.
So whether you’re the webmaster of your first website that advertises your brick-and-mortar business, an avid blogger who’s just in it for the comments, or a professional writer who produces content for other sites, learning to use the best of tweaks and tools to improve your Internet performance is a must. Begin with interesting, informative content that uses good grammar and English, and then tweak it a bit here and there to make it easier to scan. Make sure your website is optimized for mobile users, that it loads quickly, and that the font and colors are easy to read. Use professional-looking images and fill in the alt tag and caption fields using your keyword phrases. If you’ve done all of this, there’s not much else to do but sit back and wait for Google to crawl your site. You can speed the process up a bit by sharing your content across your social media channels and by submitting your site directly to the big-name search engines, but beyond this, it’s basically a waiting game.
It typically takes a solid six months to begin seeing results on a quality website if you’ve covered all the bases. But if you’re patient, you’ll soon begin reaping the rewards.