Deniz Hassan explains how charities should respond to Google’s new algorithm.
As of 21 April, Google made lots of charities’ lives a little bit harder when they introduced ‘mobile-friendliness’ into their search algorithm.
The upshot is that your search performance is now directly affected by how well your sites are optimised for mobile devices. It doesn’t matter if you’ve come to the decision that mobile traffic isn’t important enough – Google have made the decision for you. And we all know by now that you can’t beat Google, so the only option you have is to join them.
If you’re worried you might be affected, you’re not in bad company. Doing a cursory scan of some of our most well-known charities and banging them into Google’s ‘mobile friendly’ tester, there’s some surprising results of who has been affected:
British Red Cross
Breast Cancer Care
So what is the best way charities can handle this game-changing move?
Ditch old-school thinking
Stop looking at mobile as the annoying little brother of desktop. Mobile experience often reminds me of that 80’s movie Twins, where Arnold Schwarzenegger got all the looks and charisma while Danny DeVito was left with the dregs…DNA’s afterthought. With CommScore reckoning mobile internet use is now at a blustering 65%, we need to be looking at how our supporters want to engage with us on mobile and create additive experiences, rather than reduced versions of desktop sites. So it’s time to ditch your old-school, big-screen thinking.
Keep it light
It’s not good enough to bang in smaller versions of what you’ve got on your desktop site. ‘Heavy’ sites which just shrink down your digital assets to fit a smaller screen will make you much less mobile friendly, as it’ll take ages just to load your pages.Furthermore, while you might think your big, sexy parallax banners are so amazing that anyone who sees them will immediately donate, the reality is that most people won’t get to see them - and when they do, the clever effects you’ve used will make people sea-sick.
Review your digital strategy
If Mobilegeddon has hit you, you’ve likely got bigger problems that you don’t know about - so take this as a good opportunity to review what you’re doing with digital. Go back to your audiences and create a real multichannel set of user journeys, setting objectives and KPIs for each channel. Identify how each channel interplays with the others, rather than siloing them off.
In reality, it will take a while for the changes to have noticeable effects, and the worst thing you can do is plough your donors’ money into something which hasn’t been planned properly. There’s a lot of genuinely awful mobile experiences out there… don’t join them out of haste. Don’t forget, this change will only affect mobile search, so please don’t pull your entire site down.
Take steps in the right direction
If you do find yourself in Google’s ‘mobile naughty’ corner and you’re looking for a quick, short-term fix, it’s worth noting that the algorithm is based on pages rather than your entire site. This means you could concentrate on optimising a handful of key pages that you’ve identified as having a greater share of your mobile traffic. A good place to start would be on your email landing pages and donation pages. It’s not something that you’d want to rely on long term, but it might get you on the right path.
Deniz Hassan is founder of Clockwork Pie.