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The Next Big Algorithm Update Is Coming – Are You Ready?

Google’s “Panda” update changed search and internet marketing forever. It’s still talked about to this day. Almost overnight, many sites that had been using Grey- or Black-hat link building strategies saw their earnings crater, falling as much as 90%. A number of small businesses who relied heavily on the internet for leads and sales went out of business.

The Next Big Algorithm Update Is ComingIt was a wakeup call, but what’s coming on April 21 is going to make Panda look like a walk in the park. Google provided plenty of warning in advance of the Panda update, and they’ve done the same thing here. A number of people simply chose not to heed Google’s warnings about Panda and they paid the price. You can bet that everyone’s paying attention now.

The Purpose Behind The Change
Google doesn’t do anything without a lot of forethought and planning, and this update is no different. In this particular case, the change to the algorithm is all about mobile. The reality is that handheld devices have eclipsed the PC. There are more handhelds in service today than there are people living on the planet. As you might expect, more searches are conducted on mobile devices than on PC’s these days, and in recognition of that reality, Google wants to make sure that the results they’re displaying for their users are the best results possible, and that’s the driving reason behind the update. Helping to ensure a quality user experience for the people who use their search engine (and let’s face it, with some 85% of searches being conducted on Google, pretty much everybody uses it). The question then, is are you ready? Do you know if your company’s website is mobile friendly? Do you know the steps you need to take in order to avoid a penalty? If not, you’re in luck. We’ll outline the most important steps just below.

It Starts With Your Theme
Most people use a CMS (Content Management System) to build their websites these days, and of the various CMS’ you can choose from, WordPress is the most popular. If you use WordPress, you’re in luck. There are literally thousands of ready-made themes that are built using the principles of responsive design. What that essentially means is that when someone visits your site, the website detects the kind of device they’re using and changes the way it displays accordingly. This is far and away the simplest way to build a mobile friendly website, because there’s very little to be done except for installing the theme. If you don’t use WordPress, you may have to manually handle faulty redirects or mobile-only 404 errors, or pay a professional to fix them for you in order to truly optimize your site for mobile devices.

Speed has always been important to websites, but that’s especially true for users of mobile devices because their connection speeds tend to be slower than PC internet speeds. Faster is always better. Use Google’s PageSpeed tool to find out where you are, and how much improvement you need.

Unplayable Content
If your website features audio or video content, make sure that the format you’re using is playable on both Apple and Android devices. Again, these devices can’t handle as many file formats as a PC, and if Google sees content that is in a format unfriendly to mobile devices, you’re going to take a hit for it.

There are others, but these are the big three. If you get these three right, you’re going to be miles ahead of your competition. If you have any doubts, contact a professional you trust and have them perform an assessment of your site in its current form and make a recommendation, but hurry – the clock is ticking and April 21 will be here before you know it.

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