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Mobile Friendly

Making sense of “mobilegeddon” for localised websites

It’s been almost two months since “mobilegeddon” – the day Google included a site’s mobile-friendliness in its search rankings. While for many it may be seen as slightly more like “mobilewhatwasallthefussabout?”, there are some lessons to be learned. We discuss the key points that affect websites that have been localised, and how to ensure they rank as highly as possible…

Since April 21 (the date of the implementation) Google has made a number of useful tools available to help, which we’ll review here. The most important of these is arguably the Mobile-Friendly Test, which provides a quick report on how Google “sees” your chosen page in a mobile view.

For something a bit more in-depth, the Mobile Usability Report (part of the Google Webmaster Tools) will give a comprehensive list of the mobile usability issues across your site.

Some common reasons that Google may penalise sites and give them a poor mobile-friendly score include:

  • Text being too small to read
  • Links that are too close together
  • Not having a meta viewport set

Ways to make your localised websites more mobile friendly include:

Optimise every page

It is very easy to assume that website mobile-friendliness relates to domains, but we need to remember that Google actually evaluates every page individually. Yes – you guessed it – having the perfect homepage doesn’t count for very much at all if the rest your pages aren’t up to scratch.

For those with extensive sites that can be comprised of different CMSs and managed by different departments this can be quite a challenge, but a necessary undertaking if you want to be serious about getting found online.

For localised sites, an integrated translation workflow (via API) can help simplify global content management.

Centralise your localisation

Every organisation manages its localisation efforts differently, with some more comprehensive than others. But when you get serious about managing global content and the pages it’s hosted on, a more streamlined approach makes more sense.

While you may not be in the position to completely restructure your company’s efforts, these steps could help you get more control. And when you have more centralised control or direction, making necessary changes is that little bit easier.

Focus on speed

Just like traditional websites, page loading time is just as important for mobiles. Optimising every page to load quickly can be very important, and the basic principles on this process apply.

To help you along the way, Google’s great tool PageSpeed Insights will give a score on your page’s speed and user experience, as well pointers on what to fix, and how to fix it. Again, this applies to each of your individual pages, so best to get looking at which ones you most want to be found and start prioritising.

Use the right language

No, we’re not talking about language as we know it from a translation perspective. When it comes to website optimisation, there are three approaches to website optimisation for mobile.

Responsive web design (RWD) is generally the most effective, but when it comes to some languages (yes, those languages), there are some extra challenges to consider to ensure an optimal performance on mobile devices.

In countries like China there aren’t many native responsive sites, so using separate websites for different devices is a more common approach. This is, in part, due to how many businesses in these “new” markets actually focus on mobile before desktop in their website development.

Remember Google isn’t the end of the world…

While it is the most recognised in the western world and often at the forefront of web search development, there are many more engines out there than Google. This means that your optimisation should still take into account the algorithms of other search engines pertinent to your market.

For example, Baidu is the most popular search engine in China, while Bing is having somewhat of a resurgence in many western markets. In saying that, Baidu’s algorithm is following Google’s lead with a strong focus on mobile but we recommend consulting specialists in each of your markets to get the best results.

*Photo credits: weedezign /

Steve Griffin

Steve Griffin edits and writes for the Lingo24 blog. After studying Drama at Exeter University and completing a postgraduate diploma in Management at Durham University, he worked in Marketing & Communications in a global recruitment company for five years, before spending some time as a freelance copywriter and marketing consultant. Steve enjoys bringing his creative flair to writing and marketing projects, and has always been a passionate student of language.

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