Will Google’s Mobile Friendly Changes Impact Your Photography Website?

Will Google’s Mobile Friendly Changes Impact Your Photography Website?

By now, you probably know that Google constantly changes their algorithm in an effort to provide the best, most relevant results. Today, they unleashed a massive algorithmic change to the search results on mobile devices. TechCrunch reports that this could negatively affect 40% of Fortune 500 company’s sites — not to mention millions of others who have yet to switch to mobile-friendly pages. To avoid falling in the same bucket, here’s what you need to know and how it relates to your PhotoShelter website.

1. Mobile is a big deal, that’s why

Google is focusing on mobile because that’s how people are increasingly accessing the Internet. We’ve seen the same shift for PhotoShelter websites. Here’s the current split of traffic across all PhotoShelter users.

  • 63% desktop
  • 27% mobile
  • 10% tablet

37% of traffic to our members’ sites now originates from non-desktop users. This is actually much lower than the broad Internet, which is almost 50% mobile, but the trend line is clear – mobile is not only the future, it’s the now.

Note: Google’s change will only affect the search results initiated from mobile devices (not including tablets). Desktop searches will remain unchanged. Further, it only applies to individual pages, not entire websites.

2. Google wants mobile-friendly sites to rank higher for mobile searches

Google knows when a search is coming from a desktop, phone or tablet. In order to provide the best possible search experience, it makes sense for them to bias mobile search results towards mobile sites. Google doesn’t want the user to have to scroll horizontally to read content, nor click on miniature links – problems that mobile-friendly sites solve. Fortunately, PhotoShelter has 9 fully responsive and mobile-friendly portfolio templates (also known as Beam sites).

Note: Google considers a mobile-friendly site to be readable without the need to tap and zoom, to have links spaced out for easy tapping, and to avoid unplayable content or horizontal scrolling (this does not apply to slideshows that can be swiped).  

You can check your own website with Google’s Mobile Friendly Test.

Google considers the links on Daniel Berehulak's website to be "too close together." The website fails the mobile friendly test and therefore will rank lower than it previously did.

Google considers the links on this website to be “too close together.” The website fails the mobile friendly test and therefore will rank lower than it previously did.

Jonathan Bielaski’s PhotoShelter Beam site gets the mobile friendly thumbs up from Google.

Jonathan Bielaski’s PhotoShelter Beam site gets the mobile friendly thumbs up from Google.

3. In the US, 94% of smartphone users search for local information on their phones

This staggering statistic from Google is probably not that surprising to anyone who has a smartphone. This doesn’t mean that people are walking on the street looking for the nearest photographer. But a photo buyer, bride-to-be, or book publisher could plausibly get an email from a colleague telling them to check out so-and-so or a newsletter sent by you, which leads them to Google your name on their phone.

You might not have noticed it, but mobile-friendly sites are annotated as such when you search from a mobile device.



How does PhotoShelter stack up?

We offer 9 fully responsive, mobile-friendly website templates (as tested by Google’s own tool) to showcase your work. So, both current and prospective clients can easily engage with your work via desktop, tables and mobile devices. They’re easy to set up and even connect with other services like Instagram, WordPress, tumblr and Vimeo. For a FREE 14-day trial, check us out HERE.

If you’re a current PhotoShelter member and haven’t switched, you can do so seamlessly from right within your account!

Want to learn more about how you can boost your SEO? Download our free guide SEO for Photographers today!


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This article was written by

Allen Murabayashi is the Chairman and co-founder of PhotoShelter.

There are 4 comments for this article
    • David Brabyn at 4:38 pm


      You can indeed have 2 different websites, one for mobile devices and one for desktops. There are some plugins that will do that automatically (but I have never found the results very convincing). You will notice quite a few big consumer products’ website doing exactly that. However it is generally considered not to be best-practice.

      Technically, device detection is not that reliable. Then there is the question of content being platform-agnostic. Why should content be different – content, not layout – because the viewer is using one device rather than another?

      If the content is going to be the same why build a second “mobile” device? You might as well build a single responsive website that will be future-proof and robust. That will require re-coding the site, as responsiveness is a function of the coding itself, or switching to a new one.

      More on responsiveness for photographers’ websites including a link to Ethan Marcotte’s seminal 2010 article on responsive web design: http://www.digitaltechparis.com/2014/12/make-photography-website-mobile-friendly-responsiveness-what-reponsiveness/

  1. Michael Russell at 9:16 pm

    I earlier brought this up with whoever handles the Photoshelter twitter account, but did not receive a response. Not all of the Beam templates pass Google’s mobile friendly test. I haven’t tested them all, but when switching my own site over to mobile friendly templates, noticed that Marquee fails this test once you get down to the individual photo level. This was also brought up on the Community Q&A Forum a month ago. I realize these things take time, but I am wondering when this will be fixed, as well as any other mobile issues in other themes (if any)?

  2. Inverness Photographer at 10:43 am

    My Inverness Photographer website traffic has increased significantly for mobile devices since the roll out of the new mobile algorithm. It has more or less doubled on portable devices, therefore, a mobile-friendly website is definitely significant to performing well for mobile searches. My assumption can only be that as my traffic has increased due to the responsiveness of the site, and general monthly search volume has stayed the same, that there are non-mobile friendly photographers sites which have been moved down the rankings and as such have less traffic. So I think it’s a pretty serious impact.

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