Three years ago in the marketing world, I kept hearing about mobile traffic and mobile ads, and I was not super convinced that mobile was such a big thing. It sounded more like a marketing sales pitch for folks to start paying for mobile ads. Fast forward to 2015, and let’s face it, mobile is here to stay. WIth the introduction of tablets, smart phones and even now watches, mobile isn’t going anywhere. In fact, check your Google Analytics and see how much of your traffic is coming from smart phones and tablets. The number may not be as high as you would think, but the predictions show that perhaps, in the future, it will reign for good.
When Google tells us to pay attention and change our sites and blogs to be mobile friendly, we’d better listen. If you haven’t been on photography facebook groups yet, you might not know that there’s a huge Google update on April 21, 2015 all about getting your website and blog mobile friendly or you will lose traffic and rankings. Scared yet? Don’t be—I’m here to help walk you through the precaution steps. Also, please note, this is for right now in regards to mobile traffic only, not even tablets, but soon there will be an update for tablets too. When Google talks, we listen, so here are some steps you can take for your photography websites/blogs, and actually for any small business that has an online presence.
1. Your first step should be checking out some stats in Google Analytics Dashboard. I strongly suggest you install a custom dashboard in your GA that is more visually appealing. I will be honest, Google Analytics is not a fun place to be at. It reminds me of the math classes I would be day dreaming in instead of paying attention. Once I found these custom dashboards in dashboard junkie, I immediately installed them and feel less panicky when I log into Google Analytics now. It is super simple to install. Just choose which dashboard you want, and it will ask permission to link into your Google Analytics account. Click the green button that says “save dashboard to your Google Analytics profile.” I recommend installing the basic visitors one and social media one for your website. For your blog, install the Blog Dashboard one.
Once installed, you will now have an area in your Google Analytics dashboard marked Private, and if you click on it, you will see it states 70 facts about my visitors. Once you get to that private dashboard, you want to check what percent of the total visitors is coming from mobile. For my photography website, it’s about 30%, which is the current expected statistic for mobile traffic. The cool thing here is you can check which exact phones they are using to view your site. With this information, we will do step #3, so read on.
2. Your second step is to check if your site and blog pass the mobile-friendly test in the eyes of Google. Go to Google’s mobile friendly test site.
- Scenario 1- Pass with flying colors for both website and blog—HIGH FIVE. Well sort of. This will feel like a big relief, but your long-term goal is not only to have an SEO-friendly website and blog, but to have a user-friendly one, and one which showcases your brand well. So I strongly suggest you outsource a mobile custom site in the future for both your website and your blog because optimizing for search engines is great, and of course we want to pass Google’s test… but at the end of the day, it’s humans that book us. If they can not navigate to the site and they leave, we will not only look bad for them, but we will look bad in eyes of Google, which in the long run means we lose traffic and rankings as well.
- Scenario 2– The website passes but not the blog, or the blog passes but not website. Of course our number-one priority right now is to pass this mobile-friendly test. So if you fail, you need to check with your website/blog platform for ways to make your website/blog mobile friendly.
Here is a summary of some photography website platforms I have found and some opinions on their SEO friendliness.
WordPress – WordPress self-hosted sites are the best websites for SEO. PERIOD. But you need to make sure your theme is mobile-friendly too, as not all are. Responsive themes tend to be very mobile friendly. You may have to check with your theme support to see what steps you will need to take to make your site mobile friendly.
Prophoto – If you use Prophoto theme inside WordPress, there is a mobile section in their dashboard where you can choose to use the desktop view, but some will fail the test with that option or the mobile custom versions. For a mobile custom version, which many times is included in your design, you need to make sure that it is user friendly. You also should check that it is design friendly ( see step 3) was I see folks complaining about the default custom design of prophoto mobile sites. If you don’t know how to customize it yourself, you can hire a designer like Autumn Rabbit. If you are a designer and reading this, please comment below so I can update my blog post with your contact information. Prophoto support has lots of tutorials on doing a mobile site, so check in their support section.
Photocrati– Provides themes for wordpress. Scott Wyden states: The Photocrati theme and NextGEN Gallery are also fully responsive and ready for photographers to be ready for the upcoming Google changes.
Squarespace – Squarespace users seem to be passing with flying colors because it has a responsive design and mobile styles are enabled by default. You can read more information here.
Zenfolio – I am seeing photographers complain that Zenfolio is not planning any options for mobile friendliness, so many are jumping ship. I am not 100% sure this is true, so please contact Zenfolio.
Showit – Showit has had an option to create a custom mobile site, which is like creating a new mini-website. Josh Smith, a mobile designer for Showit, says the following:[pullquote width=”600″ float=”right “]Showit currently builds websites horizontally. Recently, they launched a vertical design option for mobile plus sites. Showit has been using HTML5 for a while, making it “mobile friendly,” but now it is mobile-user friendly as well. Mobile users are redirected to a vertically styled mobile plus site automatically, making their experience much improved and more in line with what is expected in the mobile world.[/pullquote]
You can do it yourself, or you can hire one of these awesome people to do it for you, which will take care of mobile-friendly SEO as well as brand and user friendliness.
Bludomain – I am not a huge fan of Bludomain because it used to have limited SEO features, but maybe there has been an update since I last checked. Please correct me if I am wrong, but in searching online, I do see complaints about SEO in this platform. On the topic of mobile, they do claim mobile friendliness with their themes, and a mobile option is included. Check out their site for more information. But make sure you turn off the splash page, or just contact them if you fail the test to take the necessary precautions.
Smugmug – Smugmug galleries have always had a keyword/SEO feature, and they have recently done a mobile update. Joe Martin of Joe Martin Photography says:[pullquote width=”600″ float=”right”]I’ve found over the years that Smugmug has stepped up the SEO side of the site. It gives you the options that most other page builders like WP give you: changing the title tags and adding keywords to every image and page title. Love my Smugsite. As far as mobile, you can now purchase prints via your phone or tablet. This feature was not available last year. I feel that this will help add to my bottom-line revenue.[/pullquote]
Wix – I’m not a fan of using the Wix platform, period. It reminds me of cheap generic brands… sorry. Even if you have a beautiful design, it is still a third-party platform, and it’s better to use something better like WordPress for your site/blog. They do claim they have a mobile option, so check here for more details.
Intothedarkroom – According to their recent blog post: All of our latest HTML5 photography website templates and photography blogs pass the test with flying colors. Read this blog post for more details to make sure your website and blog are mobile friendly.
The Grid – I don’t know much about it, but it looks awesome, and they do have mobile friendliness! Check out more information here.
I know there are more website platforms for photographers so if I missed one, then please comment, as I will be updating this blog post until April 21st. I don’t have personal experience with all of these platforms, and my comments above are my opinions on what I have heard, so please comment on your own experience if you use any of these listed above.
3. For step 3, the long-term goal for your website and blog is to not only pass this test, but to be very user friendly and have a great brand message. Some mobile versions of our websites look like the 1980s, as my good friend Cass from Bluesky Weddings said recently, so you may have to outsource a designer to make your site not only mobile friendly but mobile beautiful. We know that the stats will only grow as to how many folks are searching for our services from mobile devices, and soon also tablets, so don’t take the quick way out. Plan for making your site beautiful and awesome on mobile, too. It can just be a simpler version of your website, but make it reflect your brand well. Also, decide which pages are most important to you and which are generating more clicks to make sure those are updated and optimized well.
4. Step 4 is to check your website/blog speed. According to Search Engine Land,[pullquote width=”600″ float=”left”]Site speed is another important optimization consideration, as this is a ranking factor for both mobile and desktop sites. Use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to check for page speed issues on your mobile site.[/pullquote] So go to Pagespeed Insights and analyze your site and your blog.
I see I have a lot to fix for my mobile version so I need to get to work myself.
5. Step 5 is don’t panic. If you are overwhelmed, I recommend you hire a tech on Odesk for these services. If have never used Odesk, here are some tips:
- Make sure you check the reviews of the person you plan to hire.
- Message them first to get a feel for them.
- Require a cover letter for applying.
- Make sure they have plenty of hours working on Odesk.
- Avoid getting on Skype with them. I found that the ones who are persistent about Skype are doing it so they can convince me of giving them a good rating later, and often their English may not be very strong—which, if they can get the work done, I don’t mind… but you want to have clear communication of what is expected and delivered.
I hope you have found this post helpful. Please share it, so we can all be better informed and I can add on more info, which will help us prepare for this Google Update also known as the
p.s I will be doing a special Google On Air to chat about this change as well as some other topics on SEO but you need to be in my newsletter fuse list in order to know when it will be. Sign up HERE.
p.p. s Last call for my WordPress SEO class tomorrow! only 3 spots left and I will chat a little about this Google update too.