The rise of the full-stack marketer

Everybody Likes Stone Stacks

As digital marketing (and marketing in general) continues to evolve, so does the thinking associated with what makes a modern marketer. There have been numerous posts about T-shaped marketing, the Pi-shaped marketer, growth hacking and even ninja rockstars!

Whilst I’m conscious that there are already plenty of marketing buzzwords around, I nevertheless thought it worth exploring another concept: the full-stack marketer.

However, I’d like to use this post to look at the full-stack marketer not as another piece of marketing jargon but more as a mind-set or working philosophy. I don’t believe the full-stack marketer is a substitute for growth hacking, T-shaped or Pi-shaped marketing. Instead, all this thinking should be considered with the same objective in mind: to give marketers a framework and opportunity to grow and develop.

The rise of the full-stack marketer

The term ‘full-stack’ has its origins in the development world and the concept of the full-stack developer or programmer – someone with the knowledge and experience to work across every facet of the development ‘stack’ or web development platform (e.g. LAMP is a common web stack that uses Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP).

Whilst some may use specialists to work on each element of the stack, the full-stack developer has an appreciation for how the entire process works and as a result has a flexibility and ability to adapt to different situations and projects.

Similarly to the full-stack developer, the full-stack marketer can work across a range of marketing disciplines, from SEO to UX and design. Like the T-shaped (a broad set of knowledge and skills but with a deep specialism in a particular area) or Pi-shaped marketer (a broad base of knowledge but capabilities in both ‘left brain’ and ‘right brain’ disciplines), the full-stack marketer is multi-skilled.

However, the difference lies in how the full-stack marketer excels through action, i.e. they have practical working knowledge, not just an understanding, meaning they are at home editing PSDs one minute and optimising a website for search the next and always pushing to learn and adapt. This breadth of skill enables them to challenge those around them to drive for growth and more importantly get stuff done!

Where do full-stack developers fit?

It’s probably fair to say that the full-stack marketer fits best within start-ups and small companies, businesses where broad, rather than specific, skills are required. An effective full-stack marketer has a natural entrepreneurial drive and the ability to take responsibility for growth. As companies look to grow, they require individuals with initiative, spirit and the capacity to see a project through from start to finish.

Whilst larger companies tend to be more siloed and skill-specific, the full-stack marketer can still thrive. Although they’re unlikely to be involved in every marketing discipline, their breadth of skill, resourcefulness and ability to see the whole funnel means that they are able to collaborate well with others and share a common focus on the end result.

What is common for full-stack marketers in any type of organisation is their ability to measure and adjust, demonstrate the value of marketing for the business and a focus on the customer and outcome rather than a specialised domain. They’re also extremely employable as a result of their growth mindset and versatility.

How to succeed as a full-stack marketer

The real benefit of taking a full-stack marketing approach is the breadth of skill and versatility one can develop. It’s common for full-stack marketers to either move onto new, similar projects, e.g. at a small company or start-up, or alternatively progress to a head of marketing/ marketing director/ CMO type role.

Some of the key skills commonly considered to be part of the marketing ‘stack’ include:

Marketing planning

Marketing planning best practices from Smart Insights

Search engine optimisation SEO

The Beginner’s Guide to SEO from Moz


How to Create a Profitable Google AdWords Campaign (from Scratch) from KISSmetrics

Social media

The Beginner’s Guide to Social Media from Moz

Content marketing strategy

The Advanced Guide to Content Marketing


How to Give a Killer Presentation from Harvard Business Review

Email marketing

A Beginner’s Guide to Successful Email Marketing from KISSMetrics


The Ultimate Guide to Google Analytics from Fast Company

Landing page optimisation

The Most Entertaining Guide to Landing Page Optimization You’ll Ever Read


Why Our Brains Crave Storytelling in Marketing from Fast Company


In truth, there is great overlap between full-stack marketing principles and those previously invoked by growth hacking, T-shaped and Pi-shaped marketing. Marketers who are looking to develop and really add value will naturally align with any of these frameworks and philosophies and full-stack marketing simply provides another alternative.

Hopefully this article has provided a guide as to what skills to look for in full-stack marketers, either to develop your own marketing skills or look to hire a full-stack marketer for your business.

Agency versus client-side marketing

Light it up

After spending the best part of ten years as an in-house client-side marketer, I recently made the decision to experience life as a marketer within an agency. My ambition is to continually develop myself as a rounded marketer, something I’ve tried to demonstrate using the ‘T-shaped marketer’ approach and I felt the change to agency-side marketing would help me to meet my personal development goals.

There are a number of advantages for marketers who experience both agency and client-side marketing and in this post I’ve tried to summarise some of the stand-out differences that I’ve experienced and how they can help marketers looking to develop their careers.


One of the stand-out differences I found when moving from client to agency-side was the company culture. I’d come from a large company with a very corporate environment so I was immediately struck by the differences in the working environment. In addition to music in the office and more casual dress (t-shirts and shorts vs suits and ties!), teams interact with one another more openly and there’s a less siloed feel to collaboration.

The culture on the agency-side also feels less hierarchical and more meritocratic. One of the frustrations I often experienced client-side was the dreaded HiPPO (Highest Paid Person’s Opinion). A piece of work or professional opinion could be trumped by someone else’s seniority. And whilst this no doubt occurs in any company to one degree or another, senior figures at the agency certainly appear more open to opinions regardless of whether it’s a junior or senior marketer.

The more laissez-faire culture at an agency can be a double-edged sword. I personally miss the more structured systems in place client-side and whilst the hierarchy could create bureaucratic blockages, you nevertheless had a clear idea of whom the key stakeholders were and how best to deliver for them what is required on any given project or task.

The work

The pace of work agency-side can be much faster. It’s not uncommon to work on multiple clients at a time and therefore multitasking is essential. This has certainly been a personal challenge for me – I was used to working on just one brand before whereas now I’m expected to juggle projects from a wide variety of sectors (from financial services to automotive and FMCG). But at the same time the variety is a huge positive and forces me to keep my skills sharp and look for creative solutions.

It’s also worth noting that on the client-side you are the boss and set the agenda, whilst on the agency-side you are the supplier. This is an important change in dynamic – work must be delivered based on the client’s priorities and challenges must be conducted with tact.

Skill requirements

As a digital marketer, I like to think that many of the skills I have are transferable (and a key reason why I made the switch from client to agency-side marketing). However, I have found that there are differences in relation to:

a) how the hard marketing skills are applied
b) the different softer skills that are required

On the client-side, even if you have a wide range of knowledge across digital marketing it’s likely you’ll have a narrow focus within the business. You may be expected to specialise in just a few disciplines, e.g. SEO or social media, whilst others focused on others areas, e.g. UX, design and development.

Having strong commercial skills is a key attribute on the client-side. It’s often necessary to sell in ideas to senior stakeholders and the ability to construct a strong business case is essential. In addition, long-term planning is also important – as the custodian of the strategy one must be able to plan 2-5 years (and onwards).

Whilst having a narrow skill focus can also be required agency-side, I’ve personally found that I’m now expected to augment my core skills, enabling me to provide a much more rounded set of recommendations to clients and at the same time develop as a marketer.

Although I believe time-management is essential wherever you work, I’d suggest that this is particularly important as a client-side marketer. As an in-house marketer I was used to spending time working on projects and ‘finessing’ my work before presenting whilst within an agency I have a number of clients with different projects, the timings of which can change at a moment’s notice.

Career progression

How one develops their career on both the client and agency side is of course very much down to each individual and how they manage themselves. However, the company/ corporate structures I’ve experienced on both sides provide an indication of the potential career paths for marketers.

On the client-side, I’ve found there to be a very structured review/ appraisal process. Each review gives marketers the opportunity to understand how they’re performing in relation to their personal objectives, their peers and the organisation overall. Whilst the corporate structure can sometimes be a barrier to progression (for example, if there are established figures in place in senior roles), if you prove your worth and demonstrate value, structures can be changed and new roles created.

Agencies are typically structured like this across the industry:

  • Account/ client services
  • Planning
  • Creative
  • Production
  • Media buying

There is often more of an entrepreneurial and meritocratic culture and if you can demonstrate great skill and ability there’s an opportunity to progress within your area (for example, within client services you could move from account manager to senior account manager, or within creative from designer to art director) or due to the common agency structure outlined above one can more easily progress by moving between different agencies.

Pay and remuneration

The research I’ve seen tends to indicate that client-side marketers earn more than their agency peers. This may have something to do with the way in which different types of businesses are structured and their respective business models although this is dependent on position and the type of role.

However, whilst pay is a very important factor, the skills and experience one can learn from either client or agency-side is of greater importance and should form part of a marketer’s greater long-term career goals. For example, if your goal is to be a head of digital marketing or creative director in 3, 5 or 10 years time, what are the skills, attributes and competencies you need to acquire? Knowing this will help you identify the right roles to go for and may mean that a lower salary is a worthwhile sacrifice for the potential long-term gains.

How Google can help you win the moment


It’s no secret that mobile has dramatically impacted how we do business and how consumers interact with brands online – the latest data indicates that mobile is still on course to overtake fixed internet access and that mobile ad spending accounts for 49% of digital ad spending.
As a result of this mobile shift, Google has conducted some interesting ethnographic research over the last year to explore how consumer behaviour is changing and gain an understanding into the needs of real people. Some of the stand out insights from the research includes:

  • 82% of smartphone users use their phones to influence a purchase decision in a store
  • 62% of smartphone users are more likely to take action right away to solve an unexpected problem or task because they have a smartphone
  • 90% of smartphone users have used their phone to make progress towards a long-term goal or multi-step process while out and about
  • 91% of smartphone users turn to their phone for ideas while doing a given task

Google’s research has led them to the conclusion that consumer moments of truth don’t happen in a defined, logical order anymore. Instead, they happen at seemingly random times in a consumer’s life – what Google have defined as ‘micro-moments’.

What exactly are ‘Micro-moments’?

Micro-moments are moments when consumers act on a need, e.g. to learn something, do something, discover something, watch something or buy something. They are intent-rich moments where decisions are being made and preferences shaped.

Google recommends marketers consider four key moments and explain the importance of Moments in relation to mobile devices:

“We turn to our phones with intent and expect brands to deliver immediate answers. It’s in these I-want-to-know, I-want-to-go, I-want-to-do, I-want-to-buy moments that decisions are made and preferences are shaped”.

What are Google's Micro-moments?

From the ZMOT to Micro-moments – an evolution

Before looking at micro-moments in more detail, it’s worth re-visiting Google’s research on Winning the Zero Moment of Truth from 2011, which helped marketers involved in advertising, search and social media understand how they can win key moments of truth in the early stages of discovery.

The core premise of the research explained how the traditional ‘mental model’ of marketing, where a consumer follows a predictable consumer journey from ad (stimulus) through to purchase (first moment of truth) and experience (second moment of truth) has been disrupted – consumers do not react instantly to advertising. Instead, they proactively look at reviews, ask friends for advice on social media or research products on blogs before making a decision:

The Zero Moment of Truth

The introduction of the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) challenged marketers to consider new, intentional strategies to enable brands to become discoverable and capture attention in the discovery stage before guiding consumers through to purchase.

Micro-moments is follow-up to ZMOT and influenced by the increasingly ubiquitous nature of mobile among consumers. Instead of thinking about one common Zero Moment of Truth in any given situation, Micro-moments encourages marketers to consider many different, real-time, intent-driven micro-moments related to hundreds of different scenarios, all of which give marketers an opportunity to shape consumer decisions.

How do micro-moments influence modern marketing?

In many ways the underlying theme of Google’s Micro-moments research is not new. The idea that the consumer journey no longer follows a predictable, linear model, and the need to create more fluid, bespoke personas for our customer groups, has been covered before:

The Digital Marketing Funnel

However, where I think Micro-moments is particularly interesting is in the mind-set shift it encourages us to adopt. Living in a mobile-orientated world has dramatically impacted how consumers think, search and buy online and as a result marketers must respond accordingly in order to succeed.

Micro-moments in action

With Google’s data and research in mind, let’s consider some examples of Google’s Micro-moments in action and how they may influence marketing decision-making:

People evaluate purchase decisions ‘in-the-moment’

Consumers have their smartphone to hand at all times and this has implications for brands who sell products in physical locations. According to Google, 1/3 of online consumers aged 18-34 say information discovered through search caused them to buy a more expensive product in a store if that product is more effective.

This insight provides a clear opportunity with search. Mobile means consumers can instantly search and compare products in the moment, meaning marketers must win these moments by providing timely and relevant information, such as product details, reviews and testimonials.

People solve problems ‘in-the-moment’

If something breaks or goes wrong, or if a consumer suddenly thinks of something they might need in a given moment, they’re likely to pick up their smartphone to take action. Google has found that online consumers purchase in unexpected places – 39% in the kitchen; 28% in the car; 21% in the bathroom.

In moments like this it’s important to be found so search is again a key consideration. However, in order to seal the deal marketers must also ensure that the mobile experience is consistent from start to finish. The user experience and shopping process must make things easy for the consumer, meaning products are first easy to find, followed by a painless checkout process.

People pursue big goals in small moments

We often think that buying a large purchase, such as a new piece of technology, car or even house, as something that requires dedicated research time carried out in one go. However, nowadays research is conducted in ‘stolen moments’ spread across the day, for example waiting in a queue, during a lunchtime break or sitting in an airport or train station.

Mortgage calculator - Google Trends insight

Google has found that mobile queries for mortgage calculators have grown 66% since last year, illustrating the demand for research tools such as these ‘on the go’. Mobile moments are critical within long consideration journeys, with people chipping away at bits of research in free moments. Marketers must therefore ask:

  • How can I be helpful at each moment and build consideration?
  • Am I shaping preferences starting from the beginning?
  • Do I offer the right experience for the screen and the context?

The micro-moment action plan

In order to be there when our customers need us, Google offers the following advice:

1. Make a moments map

Identify a set of moments you want to win or can’t afford to lose by examining all key phases of the consumer journey.

2. Understand customer needs in-the-moment

For each moment you want to win, put yourself in the consumer’s shoes. Ask “What would make this easier or faster? What content or features would be most helpful for this moment?”

3. Use context to deliver the right experience

Leverage contextual signals like location and time of day to deliver experiences and messages that feel tailor-made for the moment.

4. Optimise across the journey

People move seamlessly across screens and channels. Ensure your brand delivers seamlessly in return and don’t let competing objectives or department silos stand in the way.

5. Measure every moment that matters

While the return on investment for certain moments may not yet be directly measurable, use credible estimates to ensure nothing’s falling through the cracks.

Five key social media trends from #SMWF 2015


I had the pleasure of attending day 1 of the Social Media World Forum in London on the 8th June. As you’d expect from an event like this, there was a lot of great stories, insights and new information from the world of social media on topics ranging from humanising your brand and content through to UGC, CGC and online reviews.

Instead of producing a round-up of the individual sessions I attended at #SMWF, I thought it better instead to highlight some of the key themes and trends I took from the event. From day 1 alone I picked up on a number of recurring topics, with the top five including:

  • Paid amplification vs. organic growth
  • Reviews, user-generated content (UGC) and community
  • Rational vs. emotional thinking
  • Disrupted business models
  • The power of brand storytelling

1. Paid amplification vs. organic growth

It’s been long documented that organic reach on many social channels (most famously Facebook, which has seen a decline of 12% to 6% over the last few years, and now often at 1% for some pages) and brands are beginning to face the stark reality that they will need to ‘pay to play’ to reach their target audiences within the social space.

Simon Veaney, Director of Social Media Communications at American Express, advised that in order to succeed in today’s modern social media world we should focus on producing less content, but what we do produce should be remarkable and amplified to a wider audience. Simon then provided a set considerations to help brands balance their paid vs. organic approach to social media:

1. Picasso’s Bull – Apple uses Picasso’s Bull to teach minimalist design principles as part of its Apple University programme and Simon explained how this relates to us. By understanding how a piece of content is constructed (from the bear essentials to the finished article), we can tailor content by channel to maximise effectiveness. For example, a three minute clip might work on YouTube for desktop consumption but a 90 or even 30 second version is required for mobile where screen sizes are smaller and internet connection often weaker

2. Blogger outreach – American Express works with bloggers who have genuine credibility and can use their influence to reach niche audiences. However, the influencers must choose you – there has to be a match between blogger and brand

3. Use the Twitter approach – Twitter often talks about “planning your spontaneous moments”, i.e. plan in advance the type of events relevant to your brand and how you can create content around the things that people are engaged with ‘in the moment’ (think World Cup, Oscars, Glastonbury etc)

4. Consider sequential messaging – avoid the ‘matching luggage’ approach to content creation. You don’t need content to match across all channels or to cram everything into one message – consider a series of posts that tell a story or message over time.

The Facebook approach

2. Reviews, UGC and building a community

Whilst there was a breakout session focusing specifically on this subject, this was also a theme I noticed in a number of sessions and something that was clearly resonating with the speakers and panel members.

The importance of using UGC to build community and engagement shouldn’t be underestimated. If we look at Apple, for example, they have built a powerful army of brand advocates over time whilst Adidas have researched how people are using their products by asking them for direct feedback online.

Online reviews, built into ecommerce sites, can also offer a lot of value by enhancing the customer journey and ultimately increasing conversion rate. There are inherent risks in enabling consumers to review your products online but there are also considerable benefits if the right philosophy is adopted. Thomas Cook, for example, offers reviews as well as photos and Q&As, all of which helps reduce fears and anxiety before booking a trip to a new destination.

Some of the key takeaways I picked up regarding this topic included:

  • Authenticity is key. Whilst incentives can work to drive reviews and UGC, they can also be harmful if the community believes good reviews have been ‘bought’ rather than earned
  • Consider how UGC can be built into multiple marketing platforms, both online and offline (e.g. social media channels, banners, packaging etc)
  • Use UGC to make product/ service improvements. Is there recurring feedback relating to specific features that can be improved?
  • For online reviews, set out your success measures up front. InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) used the following:
    • Quantity (number of reviews)
    • Authenticity (genuine customers)
    • Conversation (hotel -> guest interaction)
  • Get executive buy-in. Building reviews and UGC into a website is a big undertaking for many brands to executive level support is crucial.

3. Rational vs. emotional thinking

The concept of left vs. right-brain thinking is not new but how often do brands consider how customers use their brain to make decisions and tailor their messaging and content accordingly?

Logical emotional

Customers will often make decisions based logical and/or emotional reasoning and there’s an opportunity to create effective content based on these touch-points.

In her excellent presentation on the Consumer Economy in the Digital Age, Prelini Udayan-Chiechi, VP Marketing at Bazaarvoice, talked about how Clinique use evocative imagery within their website to elicit emotion whilst at the same time leverages user-generated reviews to help customers make rational decisions about the right product for them.

4. Disrupted business models

I thought it was interesting to hear a number of speakers throughout the day talk about case studies from the sharing economy.

The rise of peer to peer networks

The prominence of peer-to-peer companies like AirBnB, Uber and Viber is an indication that consumer behaviour and expectations are changing, and as a consequence are affecting the way they interact with brands. As a result, businesses are having to learn to accommodate ‘disownership’, i.e. consumers, particularly Millennials, are favouring renting rather than owning products and services (think Netflix, Spotify and even mobile phones).

Whilst I don’t necessarily believe that we’re seeing the end of traditional business models, new ones are emerging and are genuinely challenging the status quo. This means that brands must consider how digital disruption in their industry could affect how consumers interact and evolve their business models and approaches accordingly.

5. The power of brand storytelling

Whilst the benefits of effective storytelling is well established, it was still good to hear some interesting case studies as to how brands are using storytelling and storytelling techniques as part of their content marketing and social media strategies.

As part of a panel discussion specifically around this topic, companies including The North Face, Goodyear and Elle UK talked about what storytelling really means in this context and what we can learn from their efforts.

Some of the key takeaways included:

  • Storytelling is about engagement and sharing. So to really make this work make an effort to understand your customers (age, demographic, like/ dislikes) and create content that’s relevant to them
  • Effective brand stories are often connected to the brand’s core values
  • Tailor stories by platform, i.e. online/ offline; Facebook/ Twitter. Each platform and channel will have unique features that resonate with audiences in different ways
  • Consider crafting stories as part of an overarching strategy that works across multiple channels. For example, John Lewis’s 2013 ‘The Bear and the Hare’ campaign spanned TV, social media and in-store experiential marketing
  • Reconcile structured and unstructured content. Map out content options and identify channels and formats to push to consumers. Look at data from previous campaigns – what’s working? What can be optimised?

Google’s mobile algorithm update – the impact


If you’re involved or work in search marketing, you’ll have no doubt been aware of Preparing for Google’s mobile algorithm update since it was announced in the autumn of 2014 and rolled out on April 21st, 2015. Many predicted major changes as a result of the update, with Google’s Zineb Ait Bahajji saying at SMX Munich that the upcoming mobile-friendly algorithm update would “impact more sites than their Panda or Penguin algorithms“.

So What Has the Impact Been?

It’s fair to say that the impact of the mobile update has been underwhelming for many in the UK. Google had stated that the update would affect more queries than Panda and Penguin updates, and although no official numbers have been disclosed, more volatility has been observed on previous algorithm updates.

Who were the winners and losers?h2>

Surveys of keywords across websites are useful for seeing the overall impact and the Searchmetrics winners and losers report offers a useful review of the impact of these changes across keywords:

Searchmetrics winners and losers

Analysis of the first week listed as the website with the biggest loss. Analysing it reveals how big an impact the update may have had on SEO performance with losing visibility on key generic keywords, including:

Keyword performance

Pages that were not mobile-friendly on average dropped five positions, which is enough of a drop to significantly impact CTR and therefore share-of-voice.

Other losers included sites such as non-mobile-friendly Songlyrics:

Songlyrics performance

Although there were some positive results, too, including GQ:

GQ performance

What Does Google Say?

It’s good that Google has given plenty of warning and education on this update. On April 21 they issued this clarification in a blog post that downplayed the importance of the mobile-friendly ranking factor:

“While the mobile-friendly change is important, we still use a variety of signals to rank search results. The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal — so even if a page with high quality content is not mobile-friendly, it could still rank high if it has great content for the query”.

This information would have been useful before and might have prevented the ‘mobilegeddon’ hype… but it does explain why the impact has been less than expected.

What’s Next for the Mobile Update?

It’s likely that Google will roll out improved iterations of the mobile-friendly algorithm over time. There are two key ways in which Google can improve the mobile algorithm update:

1. Get better at detecting whether there is a mobile experience

Google can make improvements to how it detects whether there is a mobile-friendly webpage or not. Currently it is possible to trick Google into thinking you have a mobile-friendly website and get the positional improvements even if you don’t. If you simply redirect a user to a mobile friendly page and then navigate them back to the desktop page, you will be rewarded as being classified as being mobile friendly

2. Quantify whether or not that is a good user experience

There isn’t much consideration given to how good or bad the user experience is on a mobile device. Over time, we would expect Google to incorporate more user signals into qualifying how good the mobile experience is look more at behaviour metrics and search sequence, so focus must now turn from just having a mobile site, to making it as good as possible.

Preparing for Google’s mobile algorithm update

Google mobile update


Earlier this year, Google revealed that there will be an algorithm update on the 21st April, 2015 that will expand their use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal.

This will mean that websites not deemed to be ‘mobile-friendly’ will suffer from reduced visibility within organic search results. It’s also possible that this reduction in visibility may extend to desktop as an additional incentive to webmasters to improve mobile experiences.

Google has announced that this update will take place in ‘real-time’, meaning that if changes are made to make websites more mobile-friendly, as soon as the changes have been indexed by Google the benefits will be realised. Google has also said that this algorithm update will take place on a page-by-page basis, meaning that only those pages that are not mobile-friendly will be impacted, rather than the wider domain.

Why is Google implementing these changes?

At present, mobile search results are simply not good enough for the increasing majority of people now using Google on their mobile devices.

Despite the promotion of YouTube, Android and Google+, Google is still heavily reliant on AdWords to generate the majority of their revenue. If search does not offer value to users, then they may end up going elsewhere, representing a risk to Google’s revenue stream.

At the moment, mobile search results largely match desktop and are ranked based on the merits of the desktop site rather than their own. However, this is no longer acceptable with mobile traffic likely to outstrip desktop by Q2 2015:

Google does not want to be serving half of its users with sub-optimal search results and are therefore making efforts to mitigate this issue.

Case study:

Both desktop and mobile search results for the query [trains to paris] return Eurostar as the top result:

Eurostar search results

However, the user experience between desktop and mobile differs greatly. The desktop user lands on the Paris route landing page. The page provides the user with information about the route and offers the ability to start the booking process. The mobile experience, on the other hand, is much different. The search listing indicates that the user will land on the same, or at least a similar, page:

Eurostar UX

But instead the user is instantly redirected to a page where they must select their language, despite having arrived from Google UK. Furthermore, once the user has selected their language they are re-directed to the mobile homepage. Whilst this webpage does enable them to navigate to the page they ultimately require, overall it is a poor user experience.

This algorithm update was on the horizon

Over the past few months, Google has put some effort into informing webmasters about the performance of their mobile websites and alerting them to the issues they may have. These actions have included:

WMT - mobile usability report

  • Mobile-friendly snippet – Google start to signpost mobile-friendly websites in mobile lists next to the meta description

Mobile-friendly search result screenshot

  • Automated messages – Google has sent emails to webmasters with sites offering a poor mobile experience
  • Notification of update – it is rare for Google to confirm an algorithm update, let alone give advanced notification, and this provides an indication of their desire to give webmasters an opportunity to make improvements

How to prepare for the algorithm update

Here are five recommended actions to prepare for Google’s April mobile algorithm update:

1. Be mobile ready – make sure you have a mobile-friendly website and that the user-agent handling and redirects are handling Googlebot correctly

2. Have a view on mobile – evaluate your web analytics and understand what proportion of your traffic comes from mobile

3. Review behaviour metrics – analyse how your mobile traffic performs on your website. Benchmark key metrics including bounce rate and time on site to understand which pages require improvement

4. Check for notifications – check Google Webmaster Tools to see if Google has sent a notification about your mobile experience

4. View the Mobile Usability Report – with Webmaster Tools, look at what errors Google are reporting and what pages they apply to

Most brands know that they need to be ‘mobile-friendly’ but there are many ways to embrace mobile. Google prefers certain approaches over others so it’s worth exploring options that will prove a win-win for you and your customers.