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Online video and “Mobilegeddon”

mobilegeddon and online videoGoogle is at it again. They tweaked their search algorithm to add a preference for mobile-friendly websites in their mobile search results. It’s a good thing, considering about half of all Google searches originate on mobile devices. The downside is that many websites aren’t yet mobile friendly. And if you use video on your site, it can be tricky making sure it works on all the variety of mobile devices out there.

Two months ago Google announced it would be making this change in order to give website operators time to prepare. It reported on April 21st, the day the update went live, that 4.7% more websites were mobile friendly than when they made the original announcement.  That’s not a lot of improvement. USAToday.com reported independent testing done by Greg Sterling indicated as many as 40% of websites are not mobile friendly.

But the update examines each webpage independently. So your home page could be rated mobile friendly, but your product page may not be. Or vice versa. While most of us understand the big issue with mobile, websites and the need for them to be easily viewed, what about pages with videos? Is it harder to make those pages mobile friendly?

The answer is it doesn’t have to be. Google’s FAQ on the update only addresses embedding YouTube videos and the impact it might have on being mobile friendly. But we can safely extend what they say to all video in principle.

Basically they recommend making sure the video uses HTML5 so any modern browser will support the video. Here’s a quote from the FAQ:

“For Flash content from sites other than YouTube, check if there is an equivalent HTML5 embed tag or code snippet to avoid using proprietary plugins.”

Using a video player that is aware and serves up HTML5 to mobile devices is an ideal solution to hosted video on your websites. If you host your videos with PlanetStream, our player will automatically detect the device and deliver HTML5 for mobile devices. This will make sure Google sees your videos as mobile friendly.

To check to see if the rest of your pages will rate as mobile friendly, Google has provided a free testing tool. If you want to test a whole website, there is also directions on how to use the Google Webmaster tools to do so.

So why is the latest update called Mobilegeddon? Obviously that isn’t the name Google uses. It was first used by SearchEngineLand back in March. It reportedly was a take on a recent “Carmageddon” in California which resulted from some highway shutdowns. Of course, the term ultimately refers to the Armageddon websites might experience if they don’t become mobile friendly and see their mobile search results plummet. To check to see if the your pages will rate as mobile friendly, Google has provided a free testing tool – click here to try it. If you want to test a whole website, there are also directions on how to use the Google Webmaster tools to do so.

Oliver Burt

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