How to Check if your Mobile Hits are Down after Google’s “MobileGeddon”

So yesterday April 21st was “MobileGeddon” as it’s become known. The day Google  decided to change it’s algorithm to rank higher those websites which have Mobile Friendly or Responsive versions available to viewers on mobile devices including phones and tablets etc..

Mobile Friendly

I’ve been doing some comparative searches (make sure to sign out of your Google account as results might be skewed if you don’t)  on both desktop and mobile to see if I can see any difference in results but havn’t spotted anything obvious yet. I guess it might take a while to kick in?

Perhaps the best way to check if your site has been affected though is to login to your Google Analytics or similar account and check the stats for mobile hits. Wait a few days or weeks before doing this to give the stats a chance to build up. Here’s how to do that:

  1. Login to your Google Analytics account and click Audience – Mobile – Overview to see some quick stats.
  2. The overview data above is kinda hard to read so lets make it a bit clearer by selecting a date range. I suggest picking custom dates top right from about the 13th April to the 27th April to give one week of data before the change on the 21st and one week after.
  3. Next, tick the boxes beside Desktop, Mobile & Tablet bottom left and choose “Plot Rows” just above. This will give a nice tidy comparison chart for the period in question. See below:

Google Analytics

What you’re hoping NOT to see is a big obvious fall in mobile and tablet hits from the 21st onward. If you do and your site fails the Google mobile friendly test then you might need to consider making it mobile friendly?

 

Google Ranking Mobile Friendly Websites Higher from April 21st

“Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.”

Read Google’s full announcement here – Googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.ie/2015/02/finding-more-mobile-friendly-search.html

mobile-friendly

I’ve noticed this in news posts around the web in recent times and have had clients asking me about it. I guess it’s the way things are going with more and more people accessing online content via mobile devices and Google are probably right to reward sites with higher rankings if they satisfy this trend. Nevertheless I can’t help feeling a little annoyed for 2 reasons:

1. Google I’m sure know that to make a website mobile friendly or include a separate mobile domain completely is possibly a big job and big outlay for companies. Doing a little seo tweaking is one thing but expecting companies to either completely re-build their sites to make them mobile friendly or building an entirely new website is asking a bit much in my opinion.

2. Web design clients are quite likely (some of mine have already) to expect their website to be mobile friendly already even though it might have been built before smart phones were even invented and they might expect the site to be “fixed” for free as if it were broken in some way.

So potentially massive hassle all round because of this.

What to do?

I guess if you are conscientious about seo and Google rankings etc you may need to act on this rather soonish. If you happen to have a WordPress site or possibly any modern CMS powered site there may be plugins you can install that will show basic mobile versions of your site’s content. Failing that you’re probably looking at a full rebuild with a responsive design. Again, a little easier if you have a WordPress or CMS site but not so easy if you have a static, custom built one.

You can test your site to see if Google thinks it’s mobile friendly or not here – Google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/

Contact me for advice if you feel the need.

Leon

Redirect Old WordPress URLs to New When Moving or Rebuilding a Website

I’ve just moved my self hosted WordPress blog which was also my main business site with some static pages, to a WordPress hosted blog and replaced the self-hosted one with a static, hand made PHP/HTML website, with all new urls!

It’s proven to be a bit of a bigger job than I expected to redirect old urls that people and google might have indexed in such a way that any SEO merit I’ve gained over the years would not be lost.

Here’s what I done following some research online and while it’s not perfect and some urls are going to slip through the net or at least make people work harder to try find, I’m pretty happy with the outcome:

Step 1 – Transfer the content:

Transferring the content was easy enough. I simply done an export from my self-hosted WordPress admin and re-imported on WordPress.com. It usually works fine but some images might get lost. This will bring in Posts, Pages, Images, Categories, Tags, Comments…pretty much everything you need.

Step 2 – Replace old content:

I deleted all self-hosted WordPress files then built a new static site to replace the self-hosted WordPress site. The only thing to note here is that you should try match new url’s to old ones if possible, at least for the static pages that might have been on the old WordPress site. This will most likely involve using some code to create “pretty urls” though. More of that later.

Step 3 – Identify URLs to be redirected:

This is the hard bit! For me, all static page urls on my old site had to be redirected to the new url. I had to setup manual redirects for this even though the only difference in url might have been the addition of a .php or .html extension at the end. That was the easy bit but what about categories and single blog posts that might have been indexed quite well in google? My category list was fairly static so I could manually redirect each one similar to pages but unfortunately my permalink structure for single blog posts was a bit weird, ie – each url had a random number followed by the post title. If I’d have included the word “blog” in the url it might have made things easier!I basically had a good look through my post history on the new blog and identified the “most important” blog posts, ie – ones with affiliate links of just the most popular ones and even googled to see which posts came up highest. I also looked at my Google Analytics account to see which were the top bog posts viewed. Once I had a list of posts I was able to add redirect code for each post. See below:

Step 4 – Add the Redirect Code:

I added all my redirect codes to a .htaccess file in my website root. Here’s an extract below that should show and explain each redirect type:


Options +FollowSymLinks
RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /

#Redirect Old WordPress Pages
Redirect 301 /web-design/ /web-design.php

#Redirect Old WordPress Categories
Redirect 301 /category/wordpress-tips/ https://reverbstudios.wordpress.com/category/wordpress-tips/

#Redirect Old WordPress Posts
Redirect 301 /67/web-design-leitrim/ https://reverbstudios.wordpress.com/2008/03/27/web-design-leitrim/

Step 5 – All Other URLs:

For anything else that might be in google but you haven’t redirected, it will end up on a 404 – not found page on your site/server. To get around this I simply created a new error 404 page with the same design as the rest of the new static site and put a line in the .htaccess file to redirect all missing pages or posts to that. Here’s the line:

ErrorDocument 404 https://www.reverbstudios.ie/404.php

Step 6 – Submit New Sitemaps:

Finally, I went into my various webmaster tools sites, ie – Google, Bing, Yahoo etc.. and deleted the old sitemap and added another new one.

As I said, this seems to work quite well for me but might not be an exhaustive list of things to do so please feel free to add anything I might have left out in the comments below.

Leon

Google Now Ranking SSL HTTPS sites Higher in Results

Well this has come at the right time for me! I’ve only recently switched my main site here over to HTTPS completely. As I was doing it I kind of hoped Google would at some stage think about ranking fully secure sites a bit higher in an effort to cut out poor or insecure sites from results but didn’t think they’d be so quick to implement it.

While being fully HTTPS isn’t a massive ranking factor at the minute, it may get more important over the next few years so I’d recommend getting a secure cert for your site now. Here’s the full Google announcement re HTTPS ranking:

http://www.googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.ch/2014/08/https-as-ranking-signal.html

I can help with the setup and a secure cert only costs about €15 per year.

Get in touch.

Leon

Add Rich Snippets to your WordPress Site and Improve Visibility in Google

The Rich Snippets thing has passed me by a bit recently and I only decided to look into it when a client of mine asked about it after having done some kind of SEO course. Here’s a full description of what Rich Snippets are on the Google site but basically it’s a way of controlling how you appear in Google search results.

You can have your result stand out from the rest and therefore have a better chance of being clicked simply by adding extra information to the result. In the example below, I’ve set my WordPress blog post to use the “Review” rich snippet which means there’s a star rating on my result in Google. It also includes breadcrumb links to different sections of my site under the main link “www.reverbstudios.ie > Blog > Reviews” as well as adding links to my Google + profile at the bottom. Catches the eye a bit more eh!?

Rich Snippets To set this up on your WordPress based website, first install the “All In One Schema.org Rich Snippets” plugin, activate it then go to Posts – Add New. You’ll see a new box on the post editing screen called “Configure Rich Snippet” which allows you to fill out the info that appears in your Google result. You can currently choose from the following formats:

  • Item Review
  • Event
  • People
  • Product
  • Recipe
  • Software Application
  • Video
  • Article

Whichever format you choose will show a different set of options to be filled in. Simple!

To test if it’s working correctly, use Google’s own Rich Snippet testing tool at – Google.com/webmasters/tools/richsnippets or just Google yourself in a few days!

Leon

How to Target Multiple Countries Efficiently with Web Site SEO

When it comes time to think about expanding your market outside your own country you’ll need to be doing a bit of “International SEO” but it can be pretty tricky to target multiple countries at once. Probably the best way to do it would be to have a different website, web address and hosting for each country to be targeted and possibly different language translations too (auto translation wont cut it with Google!) but that’s a huge amount of work. Here’s a few quick tips on how to do it more efficiently.

Your Web Address:

Buying a few international versions of your main domain name is a must if for no other reason than to protect your ‘trademark’ so to speak. Concentrate on the large English speaking markets (if you are an English speaking business of course!) like the UK (.co.uk),  US (.com) and Australia (.au).

Your Hosting:

You should purchase hosting that has an IP address located in the country whose market you want to target foremost or the country in which your business is located. The domain TLD take precedence over the hosting IP location here so for example you can target the UK effectively with a .co.uk address while hosting in the US. Hosting IP location can be checked at Whois.sc.

Google Webmaster Tools:

Sign up for webmaster tools and add each domain name remembering to set the Geographic Target in Configuration – Settings. Google will attempt to do this for you based on the domain TLD/Extension.

301 Redirects:

So as to have only one website to maintain and market, pick a web address/country as the main site/market and redirect all other domains to this via a 301 redirect. You can then market each individual address in the respective country, ie market the .co.uk on UK located websites etc..

 

 

How to Make Your Website Work Better

I’ve always concentrated on just building websites and when I started out first it was nearly enough to just have a website. There were fewer sites around, less competition and more room for success but the internet is so crowded these days that you really need to work at getting your new site noticed and having it bring in revenue.

I’m hoping to move more into the “Performance” side of web design so if you feel you need help with any of the following for your existing website, give me a shout:

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO),
  • SEO Reports,
  • Keyword Research,
  • Competitor Research,
  • Google Analytics,
  • Sitemaps,
  • Internet Marketing/Online Advertising,
  • Social Media/Networking Integration,
  • Blogging,
  • Website Upgrades/Added Functionality,
  • Content Management Systems (CMS),
  • Email Marketing/Newsletter Systems,
  • Viral Marketing (Image & Video),
  • One to One Mentoring.

Leon