Google Mobile - Another New Algorithm...

You’re probably thinking, not another post about mobile web design. But as of Tuesday, April 21, 2015, it’s more important than ever. In case you don’t know, a mobile friendly/responsive website is “a site that changes shape and size and remains readable on a smaller format device.” ( And, having a responsive site can mean the difference between your digital success and failure.

Earlier this week, Google released its most recent algorithm for mobile friendly websites to address the influx of mobile traffic on the web. Of the 24.3 Million mobile users in Canada, 4 of every 5 have a smart phone giving them access to the internet on their device. (Comscore, 2015) So the new algorithm will reward businesses that have adapted their websites to mobile platforms with a higher search results page rank. 

“As people increasingly search on their mobile devices, we want to make sure they can find content that's not only relevant and timely, but also easy to read and interact with on smaller mobile screens." 
-  Krisztina Radosavljevic-Szilagyi, Google Spokeswoman

What Does This Mean For Me?

The sky isn’t falling but it’s best you prepare for the future. A website is the only place where a company must make a great first impression every time and where many buyers are exposed to a brand for the first time. But, if they can’t find your site or it doesn’t adapt to the device users are on, they are unlikely to identify with your brand or product offering. 

Google has a tool to determine if a website is in fact mobile friendly – CLICK HERE to test your website. When doing a web audit there are a few crucial factors to consider:

Text size: Is the copy readable without zooming.

Screen Fit: Does the content on your site fit into the screen. I.e. photos, floorplans, etc.

Spacing: Are the links clickable without hitting the wrong button. 

Flash: Not commonly supported on mobile devices – does not rank well.

User Experience: How many clicks does it take to perform a desired task.

What Has Not Changed?

The short answer – great content. Google will continue to scan the web for relevant, keyword-rich sites. However, pages that are mobile friendly will be ranked higher on mobile device search engine results pages. If you have a great desktop site, Google will still rank it well for desktop searches. In other words, Google still favours a great desktop site on its desktop search result page over one that is mobile but lacks the content to help users in their search query.

What Should You Do?

You don’t need an entirely new website…yet. Google’s new algorithm will continue to check each website on a page by page basis. This means that not all your web pages need to be responsive immediately. But if your website is not responsive, it’s a good idea to change the pages that are most commonly used, such as the homepage and product pages. 

While the new Google algorithm won’t have a significant impact on the desktop user experience, it is impossible to deny the need for a mobile friendly website based on the increasing number of users that access the web via mobile device. 

CMHC to boost premiums for high-risk home buyers

The Globe and Mail

Canada’s federal housing agency is raising mortgage insurance premiums as part of a plan to boost its capital reserves.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. said it is raising premiums on the highest-risk mortgages – borrowers who have down payments of less than 10 per cent – by 15 per cent starting June 1.
The increases only apply to new mortgages for borrowers with small down payments. Those who put down more than 10 per cent of the purchase price aren’t affected. Premiums will also remain unchanged on CMHC’s portfolio insurance, which lenders take out on bundles of uninsured mortgages so they can securitize them, as well as the agency’s insurance for apartment buildings.The changes come as part of a broader plan by the agency, announced last August, to boost its target capital reserves to 220 per cent above the minimum set by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, up from 200 per cent previously.
The effects will be modest for affected borrowers. An average Canadian borrower who can afford to pay the only the minimum 5-per-cent down payment typically takes out a mortgage of $252,000, CMHC said. Premiums for those borrowers would rise $5 a month, or about $1,500 more over the course of a 25-year mortgage.
CMHC predicted the changes would “not have a material impact on housing markets,” suggesting the agency isn’t looking to cool the housing market. Senior vice-president Steven Mennill stressed in a call with reporters that the changes were a “business decision” related to higher capital requirements and “not in any way related to a change in policy or approach.”
One thing is clear: By limiting increases only to borrowers with less than 10-per-cent down payments, the federal corporation is concerned that it was underpricing the risk on the most indebted borrowers.
Mortgages with lower levels of equity are typically more vulnerable to a housing shock and require higher levels of capital reserves to account for potential losses, which means higher premiums for riskier borrowers.
“As we continue to enhance our modelling capabilities, we continue to be more refined in our decision making around that relationship,” said CMHC chief financial officer Brian Naish.
“If the purpose was to ensure that there were adequate reserves against future losses, then this makes sense because their biggest losses will be at the end of the continuum with small amounts of down payment and that’s exactly the category where they increased the premium.” said Ian Lee, a professor with the Sprott School of Business at Carleton University.
It is the second time the organization has boosted insurance premiums. It raised them across the board last May after nearly a decade of silence on the issue. At the time, CMHC promised to review its insurance premiums once a year, which is what sparked the most recent changes.

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