The much-anticipated and highly-hyped Google mobile algorithm update officially rolled out as of a month ago. Much of the build up around the infamous 4/21 mobile update was that Google explicitly warned webmasters of this change – unlike the other several hundreds of updates they make throughout the year.
Seasoned industry veterans and newbies alike have seen big changes with Secure Search, Panda, Pigeon and Penguin. We here at BrightEdge recently released our own readout on the impact of the mobile algorithm update.
Considering all of the digital ink already used up around anticipating and analyzing the impact, I want to focus on how all BrightEdge customers and agencies are winners because they had the BrightEdge Mobile Solution available to proactively understand mobile search opportunities through client communication.
Whether you were on the losing end of the change or, like many, are waiting with cautious optimism to emerge essentially unscathed – you stand to gain something from the proactive approach we employed with our partners leading up to the update.
Those of us who spend our days thinking about SEO are typically abreast of the latest and greatest tactics being promoted by industry pundits. Oftentimes clients are relying on you as their search partner to filter out all of the noise and bring to light the most important takeaways with your relationship often hinging on the ability to take these blog-driven discussions and turn them into actionable insights. But, rest assured that when Google explicitly announces a major algo update your clients are bound to hear about it whether or not you’ve actively had client communication. You certainly don’t want to be on the receiving end of “Why didn’t you warn us about this?!” question from your client.
The mobile algo update was actually the perfect storm with regards to getting out in front and being proactive in distilling the most important information through client communication. BrightEdge customers had a unique opportunity to reiterate the established best practices Google provided, accurately monitor for rankings and analytics performance, and push recommendations to improve the mobile-friendliness of their clients’ sites. As stated previously, this scenario was a bit unique in that Google announced the change in advance – though even without fair warning the process employed can be an important lesson, or at least helpful reminder, on using the right data to drive your strategy and enhance reporting.
Leading up to the mobile algorithm update, we had the opportunity to collaborate with our long-standing partners at Fathom, a Cleveland-based full-service digital marketing agency whose core focus is on helping businesses grow through customer acquisition & retention strategy, execution and consulting. Fathom is vertically structured with expertise in healthcare, technology, education, retail/consumer brands and manufacturing industry segments. The goal of this collaboration was to develop a detailed and scalable process for leveraging the power of the BrightEdge platform to help them navigate the mobile algorithm change while leading with data and a proactive approach to client communication.
While the steps below might seem intuitive given the head start Google provided, this practical framework can be used in multiple situations. You can use it to better integrate data to help inform your content marketing strategy, address technical issues you’ve long since presented remedies for but have yet to implement and kick start your local optimization strategy.
5 Key Steps for Effective Agency Planning & Client Communication
Zero in on your initiative
In this case it was simple – “How might our clients be impacted by Google’s algo update?” However, at the risk of stating the obvious, it’s important to define what you’re trying to do clearly ahead of time to ensure the following steps are able to drive your agenda without steering off course. Secure clear buy-in and agreement with the client.
Devise a plan of attack
Even with eight weeks advance notice, making a site fully mobile-friendly isn’t always something that can be done quickly. Keeping this in mind, our focus shifted a little bit away from short-term updates to the mobile-friendliness of the client’s sites and instead focused in on how we proactively develop a report that helps us to quickly and easily identify whether a site had been negatively impacted by the algo update. We also enabled the Mobile Site Audit capabilities as part of this analysis to quickly identify potentially problematic pages and/or page templates that could be troublesome.
Curtis Rummel, Online Marketing Specialist from Fathom’s Retail and Consumer Brands team noted:
“The proactive discussions around the upcoming mobile algorithm update, supported by BrightEdge’s reports, gave us the opportunity to work with each client to strategize on a plan for their short and long-term mobile success. We were able to analyze then prioritize which areas of their site should be focused on first while the remainder of the site would eventually be rolled out.”
Build your data framework
Leveraging already-existing BrightEdge mobile capabilities to bring together the most important and relevant data points into a standardized report allowed us to make use of it as template across the agency client base. While BrightEdge has been touting the importance of understanding your mobile performance for several years, it took Google’s mobile-friendly announcement to rally many customers to take action and start tracking Smartphone performance against Desktop rankings. Collectively, we used this as a catalyst to drive a paradigm shift in the way the agency considers mobile visibility moving forward.
Execute your strategy
Once the proper data inputs were available, we set out to develop a best-in-class StoryBuilder dashboard for a single client that served as the template for the remaining client roster. After a handful of iterations the template was prepped for final approval and replication. While each client account offered some unique differences in KPIs – we were able to streamline the majority of the inputs to be applicable across every account.
Curtis Rummel added:
“StoryBuilder allowed us to create beautiful mobile analytics dashboards that we provided each client before, during, and after the mobile algorithm update went live. The weekly mobile analytics reports allowed us to have numerous data-driven discussions about each client’s mobile site design prior to the algorithm update going live – which allowed for much quicker execution.”
At this point, it was then time to provide a client-facing POV on the upcoming algorithm change coupled – perhaps most importantly – with an already developed dashboard report. Being able to proactively bring this to the client went a long way toward easing potential concerns from clients while also painting the agency in an extremely positive light amongst its client base. Feedback from clients was overwhelmingly positive and using BrightEdge and a refined approach showed the agency being proactivity.
A brief reflection on the work outlined above conjures up a reference to the old adage that “sometimes it’s as much about the journey as it is the destination.” Whether your clients gained or lost in the mobile algorithm change, hopefully you can figure out ways to mimic the methodology employed by Fathom in the sample case outlined here.
Failing to take action on any of the steps described could have potentially left the agency scrambling after the update to develop the necessary execution or reporting framework. By getting out in front of the mobile algorithm update and proactively communicating the plan and BrightEdge mobile reports to clients the agency served its client well even before the algo change even rolled out.