Whiteboard: Google’s Changing The Rules For Websites

April 14th 2015

Video Transcription:

Hi, welcome to an Elexio Whiteboard. In 1935, the company Parker Brothers created the game Monopoly, and they say, if you believe their website, one billion people have played that game since 1935. I bet some of you are some of that one billion. I know I am. It’s been many years for me, and I started thinking about it. I don’t even own a game of Monopoly anymore. If I went to the store and bought it, took it home, started playing, I would jump right in and start playing without reading the rules, which is probably a bad idea. What if Parker Brothers had changed the rules and I didn’t even know about it? There was a way they made the game more fun, or maybe there’s a new way that you actually win at the game.

Today in our Whiteboard, we are talking about a rule change that’s potentially way more important than the rules of a game changing. And that is a change by Google in how they rank search results. If you know anything about Google, they have a variety of algorithms out there, that when you search on their browser, they rank their results. Have you ever wondered why some things come up first and then something else is second and on down? Of course, you can pay Google and you can pay to be on top, but I am talking about the true, organic search results that are returned to you. These algorithms that Google has do a ranking off of a lot of criteria, the criteria way too detailed for us to go into in this particular Whiteboard. What we are really talking about is search engine optimization. But back to the rule change.

Google has announced a new rule that could impact your church. The rule relates to whether or not your site is mobile-friendly, and the rule only applies to search results delivered on mobile devices so think smartphones, think tablets. Okay, let’s talk about a real world example of what I mean. When this rule goes into effect, which if you are scoring at home, the rule goes into effect on April 21st of 2015. Well, for interest, I Googled the word church on my smartphone today, the day we are taping this video. It delivered several results to me, and one of the things that I noticed that Google noted for me is that some of the sites that it came back and told me it put a word in front of the description that said they were mobile-friendly. These are some church names although I changed the names so it’s not anybody who is local to me, but let’s just pretend that the Ascension Church came up first and it notes, “Hey, it’s mobile-friendly.” Engage Church came up second, not mobile-friendly so there isn’t this little indication. Wikipedia entry came up as third and it did say that they were mobile-friendly. We’ll just abbreviate it as mobile. Bethel Church came up fourth, not mobile-friendly. Park City Church, mobile-friendly.

Okay, so what does all this mean? With the rule change that’s coming, right now, Google is being kind. They are giving the browser information so if you are using your smartphone, you can know, hey I am going to have a really good experience on Ascension Church’s website through my phone because it is mobile-friendly. When the rule change goes into effect, it’s going to cause the results to reorder. So Engage Church coming up second right now, probably not. I am going to say they are going to move down, certainly into fifth place in this example but maybe even further down because I only am listing one through five. The sixth result could have also been mobile friendly and that might push Engage Church down to second page which you certainly don’t want to be on a second page of Google’s results. That’s the rule change that it is coming so now the question is what do I do about it? What do you mean by mobile-friendly?

Well, the first thing I would suggest is you got to figure out whether you are mobile-friendly or not. There’s a great tool that Google has created. If you’ll just simply go on to the internet and Google mobile-friendly tester or mobile-friendly check. A lot of searches will get you ultimately to a page created by Google, and they will tell you whether they think your site is mobile-friendly. All you have to do is put in the church’s website address and push go, and it comes back and it tells you the results. So my encouragement to you is the first thing you need to do is find out is your site mobile-friendly and I also encourage you don’t just do your homepage. Look at your other pages that might make sense. So you can test any of the URLs from your church’s website. Ultimately you are going to get results mobile-friendly or not and then you come to the point at which you got to do something.

You know we have used the example here of the rules changing in Monopoly. Well, if you just ignore it, you are going to play that game all wrong. You can’t afford to ignore this. Well, once you find out mobile-friendly or not, then you got to look for help. And that really starts with where is your current website coming from? If you are using a third party, a guy in the church or some marketing agency, you need to contact them and talk about the word responsive. That’s really what you want to look for. You want your site to be responsive. Elexio can help with that if you are kind of lost and you don’t have a place, Elexio is a provider of a CMS tool. That’s content management system or software, and we can help you change your church’s website. But there are other companies as well. The important point is find out first and then develop a game plan. We actually have another Whiteboard that we talk a little bit about responsive website and what some of those solutions are there.

Now, you may be listening to all this and talking about rule changes and even the comparison to a game makes you just sort of feel like aw, church stuff like this shouldn’t be a competition. You know maybe you think well, let’s just let it all kind of just happen naturally. So what if Engage Church ends up down here? Well, I would suggest that maybe you’re right. Maybe you shouldn’t think of it like a competition, but let me challenge you with this. Let’s pretend this is your church’s building and you probably, I am going to guess like most churches, you certainly care whether or not it looks good. So what if the window broke, you would of course, immediately fix it. I mean, there’s a lot of reasons why you would probably fix it, but aesthetics could certainly be one of them. What if the paint in the front was sort of crackling and you are like that doesn’t look very good, you do something about it or really drastic things. What if a gutter fell off? Well, you are going to fix those things because you want your church building to look good, and I would say the same thing about your web presence. If it doesn’t look good, it says something about who your church is.

Well again, just a quick summary. Google is changing the rules. April 21st mobile friendly matters a whole lot more than it used to. Used to be something they presented as a, “Oh, by the way, this site is mobile-friendly.” In the future, when this algorithm goes into effect, it’s going to change the way they rank results. So thanks for watching an Elexio Whiteboard. If you need help, we are glad to help. But get somebody to help you solve a lack of mobile-friendliness in your church’s website.

Check out How to Make Your Website 100% Mobile-Friendly Before Google’s Update on April 21st for more details!

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