Google’s Mobile-First Index: 5 Steps You Can Do to Prepare Your Website

Google's Mobile-First Index: 5 Steps You Can Do to Prepare Your Website

Though we aren’t exactly sure when Google will roll out the mobile first index, we have an indication that it is happening soon. As such, everyone in our space needs to prepare by ensuring their website is responsive before the rollout.

There are indications from Google that you should make sure your website is mobile responsive since it helps to make sure your mobile pages are equivalent to your desktop pages and Google wants you to do this before it goes live with the mobile first index.

If your website still uses an m-dot (m.domain.com) to handle your mobile traffic, this applies to you. The following information explains the basics of the update and walks you through the steps you should take to get ready.

STEP 1: Migrate your M Dot Site to Responsive Before Mobile-First Launches

Unless you have already stopped using an M-dot on your domain to handle your mobile traffic, you need to migrate through to a responsive design before mobile first launches. You can do this with any number of responsive WordPress themes. Many are available for free although there are a variety of attractive premium themes available as well.

If you want to verify that your site is indeed responsive already, you can use this tool to take a look at how the website is displayed on the desktop, laptop, and mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones.

Changing your website to a responsive theme will automatically make all content adjust to the screen size it is viewed on, so you can delete the M-dot portion of your website. However, don’t delete it just yet.

STEP 2: Make Sure Your Mobile Content is the Same as Your Desktop Content

Once you have made the switch to a responsive design, take the time to make sure your desktop content matches your mobile content. If your mobile website does not match the content on your desktop site, you may see a negative effect on your SEO. If your mobile site has less content than the desktop version, you may not rank as high because Google will prioritize the mobile-friendly version of your site.

A search engine’s number one priority is to keep their customers happy by delivering relevant content for each search query. While creating quality content does need to remain a primary concern, it is also important for the search engines that their users can easily access the content they deliver in the results. This means your responsive website should also be designed with user experience in mind. Make sure the content is easy to read and the website is easy to navigate. If you need to, use CSS and other frontend languages to make adjustments to improve the user experience.

When you believe your mobile responsive website is ready, check to make sure that Google can see these changes by using the Fetch and Render tool that’s available in the Google Search Console. All you have to do is specify that the user agent is a smartphone and you’ll be able to see how Google delivers your website to a user that’s coming from a smartphone.

STEP 3: Setup the Necessary 301 Redirects

If you are switching from an m-dot website to a responsive website, you need to set up 301 redirects from the m-dot version on the domain to the full version of the domain. This way people who are used to going to the m-dot will be taken to the correct page on your website automatically which will then adjust for the mobile device.

Your 301 redirects must be done on an individual basis, pointing each mobile URL to the equivalent responsive URL to prevent anything from breaking. This is why you don’t need to delete the m-dot version from your server as soon as the responsive version is ready. If you need a refresher on how to set up 301 redirects, you can check out this post.

STEP 4: Remove Any Mobile URL Specific Configurations Your Site May Have

If your website has any mobile URL specific configurations such as a vary http header or conditional redirects, you need to remove these.

STEP 5: Setup Canonical URLs on Responsive URLs That Point to Themselves

Next, you want to set up rel=canonical on all responsive URLs that point to themselves. This ensures that Google recognizes the pages are the same so you avoid any kind of duplicate content issue. You should also do this on an individual basis to make sure you don’t accidentally overlook one or more of the URLs that need the tag.

When Can I Expect Mobile-First to Launch?

There is no set date or timeline for mobile first to launch. It’s speculated the rollout will begin sometime in early 2018, and it will happen gradually, on a site-by-site basis, or in batches. This is why it is important to act quickly so that you’re ready whenever Google decides to begin making changes.

Failure to ensure you are off the m-dot separate site and on a single responsive site means that you could see a decline in rank. Why? Because Google will index all the m-domain and URLs, so your migration will take longer since they aren’t just updating the URLs, but also the content and signals found within your pages, too.

What if I’m Using Dynamic Serving and Want to Move to Responsive Design?

If your website uses dynamic serving and you want to start using responsive design, Google says you do not need to do anything in terms of redirects.

Conclusion

Don’t let the idea of switching from m-dot to responsive stress you out. While you do need to plan for the mobile-first index, Google will definitely let us know well in advance about how we should prepare for the rollout. If you need help with adjusting your website, the team here at Sachs Marketing Group is glad to be of assistance, so get in touch today!

Here are 6 reasons to use a graphic designer for your website.

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SEO virtuoso and CEO at Sachs Marketing Group. Always focused on being of service to business owners, to help better position them in the eyes of their audiences.
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SEO virtuoso and CEO at Sachs Marketing Group. Always focused on being of service to business owners, to help better position them in the eyes of their audiences.

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PledgeLA to Boost Diversity and Inclusion in The Los Angeles Tech Community

PledgeLA to Boost Diversity and Inclusion in The Los Angeles Tech Community

As the tech sector in LA grows due to the saturation of the tech industry in the San Francisco area, the same problems in Silicon Valley are now coming up. There’s a growing tension between the upstarts of the tech industry and the regular folks in the community surrounding this IT boom.

According to critics, what will follow in LA will be what happened in San Francisco if there’s nothing done about it. Regular people and longtime residents will feel alienated and looked down upon. They will feel like they’re being forced out by the higher rents and costs of homes as well as the prices of regular consumer goods.

That’s why more than 80 entrepreneurs and tech investors are joining Mayor Eric Garcetti and the non-profit Annenberg Foundation to launch PledgeLA. This is the LA tech community initiative that seeks to avoid what happened in San Francisco and to the people there who felt disenfranchised by the growing tech boom.

PledgeLA Features

Features of the initiative include the following:

  • More opportunities will be provided for everyone, regardless of race, background, or gender. So even non-white women who grew up poor should have the same opportunities as the white guys who grew up rich.
  • Those who signed to the PledgeLA agreement will track civic participation and diversity data each year. That data will be made public so that people will know if a tech company is made up of exclusively white males from the Ivy Leagues and other top schools.
  • Startups and funds will report on the composition of their workforce noting various factors. This won’t be just noting age, gender, and race. It will also note socioeconomic origin, educational attainment, and even sexual orientation to see if there’s bias against hiring members of the LGBT community. Other factors will include the status in regards to disabilities, immigration, and military service veteran. Even the tenure at a firm will be noted.
  • The signatories also will come up with a proper code of conduct centered on diversity and inclusion, and diversity will be practiced in corporate hiring.

Good Business Sense

While many who signed PledgeLA did so out of a sense of moral and ethical rightness, it also makes good business sense to emphasize diversity on corporate hiring practices. A Diverse workgroup brings different points of views when it comes to making decisions. It helps with networking for sources of talent, and the diverse work group can help build a diverse consumer base as well.

LA has now become one of the top 5 US destinations for technology investment and it’s now one of the top tech hubs in the country. The top 100 tech companies in LA and Orange County has reported a 24% increase in employment within the last year.

There are a still a few notable holdouts to PledgeLA, however. Tesla and SpaceX have not yet signed on, and nor has Snap. But LA is an inherently diverse area, and such a diversity must be maintained in the tech workplace as well.

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Santa Monica, Culver City, Venice, Hollywood, and beyond
LAStartups.com is a digital lifestyle publication that covers the culture of startups and technology companies in Los Angeles. It is the go-to site for people who want to keep up with what matters in Los Angeles’ tech and startups from those who know the city best.
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Santa Monica, Culver City, Venice, Hollywood, and beyond
LAStartups.com is a digital lifestyle publication that covers the culture of startups and technology companies in Los Angeles. It is the go-to site for people who want to keep up with what matters in Los Angeles’ tech and startups from those who know the city best.

Appz, a Smart Personal Assistant for Your Instagram

What is Appz and why should you use it?

If you have an Instagram account you know that managing and handling it can be quite the nuisance. You need to spend a lot of time writing comments, replying and talking with customers. That’s why you need every helping hand you can get. And it’s a good idea to try Appz if possible.

This is a really nice Instagram assistance that allows you to do the right amount of maintenance while also automating the processes that eat up so much of your time. What you will like the most about Appz is that it’s a personalized, brand-building assistant.

Once you install Appz, you can automate just about any Instagram process you can think of. It works great for auto-commenting, auto-following, and auto-liking as well. It works great if you want to acquire new followers too because it will like content created by people that have similar interests to you.

How can you use Appz?

The way Appz works is simple, you just need to add the desired hashtag and then it will do the rest for you. Appz will find people that share and access similar content and then you can engage with those persons in no time.

Not only that, but you can also monitor what Appz does via a dashboard. You can see things like engagement stats, activity statistics and so on. Every detail matters and with Appz you really get to have all the info you need in a comprehensive package. The interface is very easy to use and you can easily get a good idea of what people you need to reach, how to approach them and so on.

Appz does a very good job at optimizing your content since it works non-stop to find similar hashtags to the ones you are using and it also creates the best way for you to reach more people on Instagram. It’s nothing forced, everything is natural and it works exactly the way you want.

Why should you use Appz?

You should get the Appz Instagram Assistant: Lifetime Subscription because it makes it easier for you to find followers and generate more leads for your business. You also get to figure out what triggers the engagement, where you can find new followers and how you can promote your business even more. Plus, you can even drive up your likes, increase your reach and affiliate with influencers.

If you want to improve your Instagram presence and acquire more leads or customers, Appz is here to assist. It delivers great value and efficiency, and you will be amazed at how many followers you can get this way. Plus, Appz can be fully automated and it works non-stop for you in the background. Avail this great opportunity and check it out today!

Also, check out these 15 Hacks to Get More Instagram Followers

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Editor-In-Chief
A native Angeleno. John studied engineering at UCLA; founded Schmoozd, an offline social tech networking event in LA with 30,000 subs; ran a startup accelerator (StartEngine). Worked for several major brands like Toyota, DIRECTV, Hitachi, and Raytheon. A mentor at LMU Entrepreneur School. And advises a dozen local LA startups building amazing tech in various industries; also invested in some.

john@lastartups.com
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Editor-In-Chief
A native Angeleno. John studied engineering at UCLA; founded Schmoozd, an offline social tech networking event in LA with 30,000 subs; ran a startup accelerator (StartEngine). Worked for several major brands like Toyota, DIRECTV, Hitachi, and Raytheon. A mentor at LMU Entrepreneur School. And advises a dozen local LA startups building amazing tech in various industries; also invested in some.

john@lastartups.com

Can You Measure Software Developer Productivity?

Can You Measure Software Developer Productivity?

The cost of software development kills innovation by limiting resources available to solve problems

THE PRODUCTIVITY DILEMMA

Let’s face it – software development is expensive.  Really expensive.  It’s not hard to understand why – software development is a complicated and still-maturing industry, and as the sector grows, it actually gets more complicated, not less, because of the acceleration of changes in technologies, programming languages, and toolsets.

As a technology consultant, one who is paid to help build expensive, complex systems, I should be happier than a fanboy on a Fortnite bender about this trend, right?  Wrong – it frustrates me a great deal.  My job is to solve problems and build things that people need, and that gets harder when funding becomes a challenge for our clients.

So here’s the question I’ve been grappling with – how can we make software development more productive to reduce costs?

There are lots of things our industry has done over the preceding decades to tackle this problem:

  • Developed working methodologies to build repeatable practices – Waterfall, Unified Process, Agile, XP, etc.
  • Created design patterns to solve common problems – MVC, SOLID, GoF, and many others
  • Leveraged lower cost resources through offshoring

None of these have been a panacea.  Look at any enterprise and you’ll find competing for SDLC methodologies, loose adherence to design practices, and the common efficiency roadblocks due to offshoring.  While these efforts have been helpful in managing cost, it is very difficult to measure the effect they have really had.

MEASURING PRODUCTIVITY

What to do, then?  More than anything, the focus of productivity has to start with the most human element of all – the individual developer herself.  The focus has to be on how to increase the speed that a developer can turn a designed solution into working code with as few errors as possible.

Anyone who has been in the software industry knows there are broad ranges in developers’ productivity.   It depends on the individual’s ability to understand programming theory, their educational background, years of experience, a personal situation at the time, how much Fortnite they play, etc.

Why is this important?  Quite simply, time is money.  The longer it takes a developer to code a solution, the more it costs.  In today’s environment of nearly full employment, demand for software developers has never been higher, which brings a lot of varied talent into the picture to meet the demand.  Anyone who has hired a developer knows the productivity gap I’m talking about – hiring is an expensive proposition and no matter how much interviewing you do, and you’re never sure what sort of productivity you’ll get until that person gets to work.

Why is measuring productivity so hard?  Because a good measurement involves an apples-to-apples comparison between developers, yet they will almost never complete the same task to produce the same set of code.  Since every development task is different, we cannot establish a baseline for how long it SHOULD take to perform a task versus how long it WILL take a specific developer.  Throw in each person’s differing levels of experience, education, and general abilities with the discipline, and…you get the picture.

Does that mean we’re stuck with technical interviews, coding tests, and answered prayers to create a team of highly productive software engineers?  Not quite.  Agile practices give us an opportunity to solve the biggest challenge in measuring developer productivity – creating a baseline to measure the variance between the estimated and actual time to perform a coding task.

HOW IT WORKS

Every ALM tool – Jira, or otherwise – allows a Scrum team to create story sub-tasks during their planning sessions.  Usually, a developer assigned to a sub-task has an opportunity to estimate the time it should take to complete that task, measured in hours.  During the sprint, developers can then track the actual hours spent so the team can evaluate the variance between estimated and actual hours.

This variance isn’t particularly helpful as a productivity metric because the individual developer may be much faster or slower than the average, and their estimations likely reflect this bias.

The solution to this problem is to have all the developers on the Scrum team estimate each subtask duration, creating a proxy baseline and a more reasonable expectation of the task’s duration.  Then, once a task is assigned to the individual developer, the variance calculations can start to have some meaning.

What meaning are we to glean from this variance? When looking at large sets of variances (hundreds or thousands of tasks over multiple projects), we can observe patterns in individual developers’ productivity.  If they consistently take longer to complete a task than the established baseline, we can look more deeply at the data to find root causes and potential remediations.  Is there a skills mismatch, allocation mismatch, or something else?  Does the developer need more pair programming or training in specific areas?

If a developer consistently performs tasks in less time than the estimations, we have hard metrics to reward that individual and encourage continued productivity.  We can also look at the data to see how we might have other developers emulate good behaviors from these high performers.

IMPLICATIONS

I know I know – I can hear the complaints now.  A small group of 2-4 developers on a Scrum team estimating a task cannot be used as a valid baseline, you say.  It’s a fair point, but any leftover estimation bias from a small sample size of developers would be offset by the volume of variance data we would collect.  As a manager, I care more about the variance trends and less about the exactness of anyone variance calculation.

But wait, you say.  All of this supposes a developer will be truthful in reporting their actual duration on a task.  People lie to themselves and others all the time (just read “Everybody Lies” by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz) – if a developer knows they’ll be measured on variance, they’ll manipulate their actuals to improve their perceived productivity.

Again, fair point, but there is a self-policing solution to this problem.  An employee is generally expected to work 8 hours a day.  If a developer consistently under-reports their actual durations on a task, it would appear they were consistently working less than they should be.

Say a developer is assigned two 4-hour tasks, and he takes 1 day to complete both but only reports 2 hours of actual duration for each task.  We would see a report that shows him only working 4 hours that day.  With enough data points, we could easily spot a trend of under-reporting and take corrective action.

CONCLUSION

Why is all of this important?  As individuals, not just employees, we should all strive to improve ourselves every day.  That’s how society is supposed to work – we do things, we make mistakes, we learn from them and we grow in the process.  But we can’t improve what we can’t measure.  The method I describe is very easy to implement, as long as your team is following the Scrum ceremonies.  With simple metrics and trend analysis, maybe we can finally solve a difficult problem and leave ourselves more time to knock a few more things of that ever-growing to-do list.

Chad Hahn
Author Details
Optimity Advisors, Inc.
Chad Hahn is a partner overseeing the digital & technology practice at Optimity Advisors. He is an entrepreneur with 20 years of experience in strategy, business development, operations, and technology, and has started and sold two successful service businesses. He has a strong background in software engineering and enterprise architecture, with deep expertise in both traditional and emerging technologies.
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Chad Hahn
Optimity Advisors, Inc.
Chad Hahn is a partner overseeing the digital & technology practice at Optimity Advisors. He is an entrepreneur with 20 years of experience in strategy, business development, operations, and technology, and has started and sold two successful service businesses. He has a strong background in software engineering and enterprise architecture, with deep expertise in both traditional and emerging technologies.