Category Archives: Web Development

What the April 21st Google Update Means to Your Business

Google has been rolling out lots of changes to apps, Google Play and the presentation of mobile search engine results all in preparation for a larger algorithm release that is scheduled to be released on or around April 21st.  As we learned from past Google algorithm changes (Penguin and Panda), these updates can greatly impact where your site ranks in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

The update set to be released on April 21st is focused on providing a better search experience for mobile users. To accomplish this, Google will be “expanding its use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal.” So what does that mean to business owners? If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, your mobile search engine rankings could take a hit.

In an email sent to Webmasters, Google has indicated that they are looking at the following factors when determining if your website is mobile friendly or not.

  1. Content not sized to viewport – This means that the content of your website is not resizing to match the width of the viewer’s screen. This will result in text that is challenging for user to read and may cause a horizontal scroll bar making site navigation a challenge for the user.
  2. Touch elements too close – links and buttons that are clickable on a mobile device need to be approximately 12-20 pixels apart to make for easy touching on a smaller screen. Having your buttons, links or other touch elements too close together will cause a usability issue and will  make your site not mobile friendly in Google’s algorithm.
  3. Flash usage – Most mobile browsers do not render Flash-based content. Therefore, mobile visitors will not be able to use a page that relies on Flash in order to display content, animations, or navigation.

The first thing you should do if you are concerned about this update, is run your website through Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test (https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly). If you get the following message, you are good to go.

awesome

 

 

 

However, if you get a message that looks something like the one below, then you’ll want to take immediate action.
notfriendly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The nice thing about this update, is that Google is giving webmasters exact tasks they can do to make sure their websites are not negatively affected. If your website turns up a not mobile-friendly message, here are the actions you can take to course correct and avoid a decrease in mobile ranking after April 21st.

  1. Check with your webmaster – it’s possible that your website just needs a few tweaks to make it mobile friendly.  Make sure to get a couple examples from your webmaster and run them through the Google Test above. If they pass, there is a good chance your provider can help make your website mobile friendly as well.
  2. Find a new provider – if your current provider cannot create a mobile or responsive site for you, it’s time to start seeking out a new vendor. If you are looking for a new provider, make sure you find one who is well versed in Search Engine Optimization. You don’t want to create a new site with a mobile solution only to jeopardize existing desktop rankings with non-optimized titles and a changing URL structure.
  3. Test and test again – once you have a mobile solution in place it’s important to check every page of your site to make sure all links work and that pages are loading properly.

Though it may seem reactive and hurried, website owners are going to have to adapt to the new mobile-centric digital marketing universe. Since Google is the industry leader, when they give a command, it behooves business owners to follow.

What is your plan for the Google Mobile-Friendly Update? Let us know in the comments below.

What is a web language?

No, it’s not another Star Trek created language like Klingon, though it is “spoken” by a very small percentage of the population of this planet. We don’t wear pocket protectors, wear horn-rimmed glasses or go to conventions… necessarily. A web language is simply a set of processing instructions for an Internet server or even desktop Internet browser to assemble into a visual display.

In general, there are four main coding languages that are used today by most sites and several smaller or less used languages.

The main languages are:

1. HTML
2. PHP
3. ASP/.NET
4. Cold Fusion

The lesser known and used languages, include:

1. Perl – An older language from pre-internet days. Limited to some degree, but it has its uses
2. JSP – Java Server Pages. The ability to use this is fairly limited based on server architecture
3. C#, VB.NET, J#, C++ – These are all backbone languages for ASP/.NET and are pretty evenly spread amongst the ASP/.NET developers. While these are all more widely used than Perl and JSP, they aren’t in and of themselves, web programming languages.

For you other web developers out there, before you get your chest all puffed up and fill your lungs with hot air over my exclusion of Javascript (and AJAX), this will be discussed in more detail on another post. Relax and breath.

There is one rising star that is gaining ground quickly and will likely outshine more than one of the more popular languages due to it’s intelligent construction and use of the MVC (Model-View-Controller) methodology. This “new kid” is called Ruby on Rails and is only partly new. The Rails framework has been around for many years, but the Ruby implementation is still a child in comparison to it’s more senior languages.

For this article, we will focus on the main 4 languages; what they are and what they do.

HTML
Hypertext Markup Language. This is the basic and standard language of the internet. Nearly all web pages are based on HTML. This language is developed and maintained by the W3 organization (www.w3schools.com/html). This language is processed by the desktop computer’s browser. While you can create some incredible web pages and presentation, you won’t get too much in the way of dynamic action without one of the following.

PHP
Post Hypertext Processor. This is one of the more popular server-side languages. It’s popularity comes mostly because it’s an open source language and developing in PHP is fairly simple. It’s format is clean and logical. It is well optimized and developed by a large community of developers. PHP is very secure and maintained consistently. PHP allows web site owners to process data on the server, such as retrieving and inserting data from and to a database or forms on the web pages. PHP processes the data, then converts it into HTML, which is then transmitted to the desktop computer browser for display.

ASP/.NET
Active Server Pages / .NET. ASP and .NET are Microsoft’s answer to other server languages like PHP. ASP and .NET are essentially older vs. newer versions, ASP being the older, and original, Microsoft server language, whereas .NET is a more up-to-date and modern version of the language. Some would argue this point as .NET can be very different from ASP, but for sake of simplicity, just go with me.

In general, ASP/.NET can only be used on Microsoft Windows based servers, thus making it a bit more restricting in terms of availability.

ASP/.NET are also considered secure and flexible, offering a similar functionality as PHP, though, their methods are different. ASP/.NET typically uses more interactive scripts in the desktop browser for processing and transmitting data for the server to handle, thus spreading out the load between the server and the desktop.

ColdFusion
Developed by Macromedia, ColdFusion runs only on a ColdFusion Server. This makes it extremely limited in availability. Additionally, ColdFusion Server is a licensed product, which means that the server host must pay for the ability to host ColdFusion sites. This usually means that ColdFusion is used more by large companies rather than individuals.

ColdFusion’s code system is designed to build the web pages from “pieces of content”. These pieces are chunks of html code combined with the data from a database.

ColdFusion has lost a lot of it’s following over the past few years due to a lack of available developers and servers.

Conclusion
What you use when you build your website will largely be based on what your developer knows and what is financially possible. Generally, there are a lot of PHP and ASP developers out there, if you don’t already have one. Their prices vary greatly, based on their level of knowledge. While a good developer may not be cheap, it’s worth investing a bit more in one with a higher level of knowledge as you will end up with a more professional, reliable application.