It may not be a question that you are often asked, but it is now a very important one as from April 21st, Google have announced that they will be including ‘mobile-friendliness’ as a ranking factor for all mobile searches. This means that sites which are mobile friendly (responsive) will appear higher in mobile search rankings than those that are not.
Google regularly makes updates and tweaks to their algorithm (Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird to name a few), but in most cases the majority of these go on in the background without notification.
The fact that they have highlighted this latest update in advance suggests that the changes to mobile search could be significant. To us, the message seems pretty clear, if a website is not mobile friendly by the April 21st it risks losing its ranking within mobile searches.
Given that Google’s last poll in 2013 reported that 54% of smart phone users were using search on a daily basis, not fairing well in mobile search results could have big implications for many businesses, particularly as mobile search usage continues to increase and become the dominant platform over traditional desktop PCs.
Does My Site Need To Be Mobile Friendly?
It may not be panic stations just yet, but the resounding answer across the board is yes, for one very important reason – mobile friendly websites improve user experience. More and more users are viewing content via a mobile device and that experience can vary between platforms. Just because a website works and appears perfectly on a desktop screen does not mean that this will be replicated on a mobile or tablet screen. A non-responsive site won’t adjust and will force the page either to shrink making the text illegible or only highlight a section of the page, meaning the user needs to move around the page and zoom in and out to find the content, link or information they are after. This as you can imagine can become frustrating and users are more than likely to leave a website that is not mobile responsive than one that is. Put simply, sites that are not mobile friendly can ultimately result in lost business.
A mobile responsive site promotes a positive user experience as the site adapts based on the screen size it is being viewed in, making it easier for the user to navigate. Google understands this and are looking to prioritise mobile search results with the most relevant and mobile optimised websites available. So, if you want your website to appear in mobile rankings going forward, it needs to be optimised for mobile.
What Do I Need To Do?
If you are unsure if your site is mobile friendly, one of the easiest ways is to check is by viewing your site on a mobile device. If the site does not adapt to the screen then it’s likely that it is not responsive. Google also have a range of tools that highlight whether your site is mobile friendly or not – simply enter your web address into their Mobile-Friendly Test tool to get immediate validation or visit the Mobile Guide page.
If your site is not responsive, now is the time to make the change. Whilst it may not be possible to have a new responsive site or separate mobile site developed by April 21st, it is worth speaking with your web team about what can be done to improve the websites current mobile usability issues.
At Chalk & Ward we have been developing mobile friendly and responsive websites before it was considered best practice to do so and can help transform the way your site appears online. If you would like to know more about mobile responsive sites, how we can help to optimise your existing site or discuss options for mobile responsiveness, please don’t hesitate to contact us.