Earlier this year Google announced that it was making a change to its search algorithms which would now factor in a website’s “mobile-friendliness” as a ranking signal. A recent report found that smartphones and tablets combined now account for 6o% of all online traffic up from 50% a year ago, so it’s no surprise that search engines are starting to reflect and react.
If you’re site is misconfigured for smartphone users or you just simply don’t have a mobile-friendly option for consumers you may see a drop in your rankings if you’re not compliant with their Mobile Optimisation Guidelines.
So what does it all mean? You need to get mobile!
What exactly does ‘mobile-friendly’ mean?
What google means by this is that a website’s text content needs to be readable without any manipulation (pinch-zooming or double-tapping), anchor links and navigation need to be appropriately spaced in order to easily be used and it avoids unnatural functions like horizontal scrolling or video/slideshows that you can scroll past. Put simply, it need to be easy to use on a smaller screen with one hand.
How will Google test for “mobile friendliness”?
Google’s updated algorithm will scan each page of a site in order to check for load times, responsive design and general mobile usability. Currently searches on tablet are not affected but that’s not to say it shouldn’t be considered as it is almost inevitably in the pipeline - without doubt it’s worth getting ahead of this further update.
How does a website become mobile friendly?
Depending on your current situation there are a couple of options here, either working with your existing website or building a new one.
- Your website has a separate mobile-friendly view of each live page built.
- Your website is built using a Responsive Design.
What is ‘Responsive Design’?
Responsive Design means that the design of each of your website’s pages will adapt and change depending on the size of the screen it is being viewed on - from smartphones to phablets to tablets to laptops to desktops!
Should I be concerned?
If you’re a business that already puts time and energy in to optimising the mobile experience for your customers you’ll benefit from improved mobile SEO over competitors that are lagging behind. AWESOME! If you are one of those that is ‘lagging behind’ in your mobile user’s experience, but you have a great desktop site, you’re mobile ranking won’t be affected. However, with others receiving boosted rankings, you need to be on that train too.
All consumers, visitors and potential new clients will have a tendency to abandon your brand if they are struggling to find out information, make purchases or get in contact via your website. With 60% of those people being on smartphone or tablet devices, there’s no question that you need to get up to speed with mobile before your bottom line takes a hit.
What do I need to do?
There are a number of tools that can help you get to grips with what this means for you right now.
- Google’s mobile friendly test allows you to enter any URL in order to check how you’re looking in terms of Mobile-Friendliness. Click here to check your website.
- Webmaster Tools can also give you a ‘Mobile Usability Report’ that outlines current errors and issues you’re website has. Click here to check your Usability Report.
Your next step will be to look at what the best option for your website. Have you got an existing developer that built your current site and can look at building mobile-friendly versions of your pages? This may be suitable in the shorter term but could work out more costly in the longer term - ultimately, with likely future updates and developments, your website needs to be responsive.