How Does Google’s Upcoming Update Affect Your Site?

How Google's Update Impacts RealtorsGoogle has announced that there will be a significant update in its search-ranking algorithm that will go into effect on April 21, 2015. While Google never releases the specifics of an update, the general idea is that mobile-friendly sites will be ranked more highly in search results. In contrast, non-mobile-friendly sites will be ranked lower.

Mobile Friendly Sites and Real Estate

What does this mean to you, as a real estate professional? Primarily, it means that if your site is not optimized for mobile, you will no longer rank highly for the keywords you desire. That will directly impact the web traffic you get from search.

For instance, if you’ve done work to become highly ranked for “Minneapolis real estate” or some other term, you could lose all of that hard work if your site doesn’t show up well on a mobile device.

You are probably wondering how to know if Google considers your site “mobile friendly”. Fortunately, Google has provided a tool that will help you know. On the Google Mobile Friendly Test page, enter your website’s domain and click “Analyze”. Within a couple of minutes, Google will let you know what they think.

Keep in mind that Google is planning to test every page of your site separately. You’ll need to make sure that your whole site is mobile-friendly, not just the homepage.

How to Make Your Site More Mobile-Friendly

Here are some steps you can take to update your website to make it mobile-responsive.

  • Don’t Panic. You want to make sure your updates are done correctly – definitely don’t pay a shady “update your website now” company that you found through a pop-up or unsolicited email.
  • Test Your Site. Use the Google Mobile Test linked above. If you thought your site was mobile-friendly but it failed the test, go to Google Webmaster Tools to see what the issue is. There are step-by-step instructions on setting up Google Webmaster Tools here, and the mobile usability errors will be noted on the dashboard. By clicking them, you will be taken to the trouble spot and told what to do to fix the issue.
  • Change Website Providers if Needed. If you have someone else administering your website, check with them if you fail the Google Mobile test. If they cannot update your site to a mobile-responsive version, change website providers to someone who can. Make sure your provider provides mobile responsive design, not just a separate site for mobile devices. Google doesn’t like separate sites.
  • Test Your Site After Any Changes. Once you’ve updated your site or made needed changes from the Google Webmaster Tools, go back through your site and make sure it looks good on multiple browsers and devices. Check links to make sure they still work correctly, especially links from one page to another.
  • Relax and Get Back to Real Estate! After your site passes the Google Mobile test, relax! Your site should be safe from being negatively impacted by Google’s update – and if your Google Mobile Updatecompetitors don’t make these changes, you may even move up the search results.

As Realtors®, it’s frustrating to have to think about things like web design and Google updates. However, many of our customers find us through search, and so it cannot be overlooked. If you haven’t updated your site to be mobile-responsive yet, be sure to do so before April 21, 2015.

How do you handle needed web design updates? Do you do them yourself or hire it out? Share in the comments!