Be mobile-friendly or die

Agency and corporate career sites must be mobile-friendly to protect or boost their Google rankings...

Thur, 21 May 2015

FROM JUNE 2015'S RECRUITER MAGAZINE

Agency and corporate career sites must be mobile-friendly to protect or boost their Google rankings. Recruiters should understand what is required to pass the Google mobile-friendly test even if they outsource web services.

When Google announced it would roll out a mobile-friendly algorithm on 21 April, digital visionaries warned that ‘Mobilegeddon’ was nigh (see below for criteria).

The new algorithm’s aim is to boost the ranking of mobile-friendly pages on searches carried out on mobile devices. The danger for sites that don’t provide a good user experience in the mobile environment is this: they run the risk of significantly dropping in the rankings.

With smartphones and tablets the starting point for so many job searches, Chris Bogh, technical director of recruitment technology company Eploy, questions why recruiters haven’t already invested in providing a good mobile experience for candidates. “It shouldn’t be a case of Google forcing their hand, they should want to do it anyway,” he says. 

Andy Drinkwater, founder of search engine optimisation (SEO) specialists iQ SEO, carried out a test on 4,130 recruitment agency websites before the update and found that more than two-thirds failed the Google mobile-friendliness test and warns: “If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, Google will push those that are higher up the search results.” 

Native apps vs responsive route

What is likely to be the best route for most recruiters? Probably a ‘mobile-responsive’ design route where the device resizes and adapts the site for an optimal experience on a mobile device.

Bogh explains that modern web browsers have improved to the point where mobile-responsive will deliver what many recruiters require in terms of a mobile-friendly site. “You’ve got to ask whether the individual will download an app for a single agency or company,” he says.

Drinkwater agrees. Unless you require specific functionality or a lot of integration with, for instance, timesheets or back office functions, the mobile responsive route will suffice, he says. 

Invest proper resource and time

There isn’t ‘a quick fix’ to making a site mobile-friendly, stresses Drinkwater: “You either need to bring a developer in to work on the site styling or have a new site designed in something like WordPress that is mobile-friendly out of the box.” 

Likewise, 4MAT client development director Andrew Soane adds that getting a great mobile experience with more complex features such as job search is not straightforward and needs careful consideration. 

“They [recruiters] also need to be pushing their designers hard on how the forms, registration and apply routes will work on mobile devices,” he says. “Approaches such as ‘Register’ or ‘Apply with LinkedIn’ and Cloud CV file upload should be investigated.”

Don’t outsource mobile responsibility

Recruiters must take ultimate responsibility for mobile-friendliness. “You know your candidate, so think about their experience,” says Bogh. “This isn’t down to the technology provider.”

Soane points out that recruiters should supply alternative routes for candidates to apply, rather than via a mandatory CV file upload “and no other way to send you their details at all”, he says.

Test and test again

Google has provided a mobile-friendly test site that allows the testing of individual pages, so check all areas of the site. To test it, click through from its googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.co.uk. Be sure to test it yourself as if you were a mobile candidate. 

Finally, remember that fresh, relevant content remains as important as ever to gain a high ranking. Eliminate the risk of being penalised on any count by providing content that is relevant and continually updated in a mobile-friendly format.

Is your site Google mobile-friendly? 

A page is eligible for the Google mobile-friendly label if it meets the following criteria: 

  • it avoids software that is not common on mobile devices, such as Flash
  • it features text that is readable without zooming
  • it sizes content to the screen so users don’t have to scroll horizontally or zoom
  • links are placed far enough apart so that the desired one can be easily tapped


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