By Rick Barron, HP
When you are on the Internet from your mobile device, the words “Go to full site” are almost sad enough to make you shed a tear into your extra-foam latte while you sit on the train into work. Those four little words change your user experience with the website you are on. They mean struggling to zoom in to see the information you are looking for and hoping that your fingers hit the correct link.
It shouldn’t be this way. When you search for “flowers for anniversary” on your way to work, it should be easy to find a site and order the flowers so they are home before you are. And late last week, Google announced on its Webmaster Central blog that it is expanding the use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. According to the blog, “users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices” as a result of this shift.
What does this change mean?
- For users this change means that when searching from a mobile device, the top results will be easier to use and have been verified to work more effectively on the device.
- For Webmasters this means that you need to make sure your site is mobile-friendly and that you test this capability.
- For Enterprises this means that your site has to be mobile-friendly or you risk losing search engine exposure and potentially customers.
The changes go into effect on April 21.
These changes don’t only impact websites, there are implications for applications as well. The blog continues to say that “we will begin to use information from indexed apps as a factor in ranking for signed-in users who have the app installed. As a result, we may now surface content from indexed apps more prominently in search.”
What’s the impact?
Going forward, the mobile friendliness of a website will be a ranking factor in mobile search results. Don’t be surprised. This change was inevitable, especially because more and more people are accessing the Internet through their mobile device.
Two areas of impact will be:
- More mobile friendly sites will rank in search results
- There will be more relevant app content in search results
The biggest update to Google’s search algorithm is that they will be expanding their use of mobile friendliness as a ranking signal throughout mobile search results. Google states that the change will affect worldwide mobile search results in all languages and will have a significant impact on their search results. The big benefit here is that it will make it easier for users to get relevant, high-quality results that are optimized for their device. The changes won’t go into effect until April 21st , meaning you still have some time to make sure your business’ website is mobile-friendly, but April 21st is only 48 days away.
Google also announced that apps that are indexed through App Indexing will begin to show more prominently in mobile search results. Note: This will only work for signed-in users who have the app installed on their mobile device.
So what does this mean for your business?
Mobile devices are part of everyday life. In fact, studies have shown that the average smartphone user checks their phone up to 150 times per day. Yes, 150 times per day! If your business’ site isn’t mobile friendly, you’re missing out on some serious opportunities.
There’s a difference between having a mobile version of your site and having a responsive site. A responsive website design requires that you only have one website that is coded to adapt all screen sizes. This means that regardless of whether someone is on a tablet or a desktop computer, your website will be easy to read and navigate.
It’s a different story for a mobile version. What this equates to is a mobile version of a site is a completely separate site that requires you to have a second, mobile-only website. Mobile sites are not built for different screen sizes, and this often causes issues with readability, loading times, display, and navigation.
Responsive design is by far the most popular and widely used method for designing a mobile-friendly website. One of the biggest benefits of responsive sites is that the size of the template is designed based on screen size, not device. This means that a responsive site will adapt to future devices (TVs, watches, glasses, etc.), meaning your website will look beautiful regardless of the screen size. Additionally, having a single URL makes it easier for Google to crawl your site and reduces the chance of on-page SEO errors. Responsive sites typically perform better and are easier maintain than a separate mobile site.
If your website isn’t already responsive and mobile-friendly, it’s essential that you make this change before the new Google update takes effect.
- Google Mobile-Friendly Testing tool
- Mobile traffic is moving past desktop traffic
- Mobile shoppers
- 5 Reasons You Absolutely Must Optimize Your Website for Mobile
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