If you don’t have a mobile friendly website then it stands a chance of being punished by Google search rankings, or so Google has recently announced. The day has arrived!
What is a mobile friendly website?
A mobile friendly website is one that is responsive on all mobile devices. For this to happen it needs to be interactively programmed to allow for the screen to change depending on the device the website is being viewed on. The whole idea behind it is proficiency driven, to make the user experience as amazing as possible, irrespective of the screen size the website visitor is using.
Mobile responsiveness has always been important. One fact we, as SEOs, like to quote a lot is that over 54% of searches are now conducted on mobile devices. If a company does not comply with the basic measures of mobile responsiveness then they are letting down a staggeringly huge amount of their potential market. A mobile friendly website can, on the other hand, engage with that 54% to ensure to make the most out of prospective engagement.
What is full mobile responsiveness?
Full mobile responsiveness is more than just a code placed in the background of a site in order to change the shape of the page to fit a device. Full responsiveness links in strongly with UX and Information Architecture. It is important that, when responsive, a site is still usable. Take Underhood as an example. On Underhood we have sections that are split into Engine, Drive, Brain, and One.Min. If we look at these titles they are all short. We could have called One.Min 'Blogs You Can Read In One Minute' but (a) that doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as easily and (b) can you imagine that title on a drop down menu on a 2” x 3” screen? It would look rubbish.
CAB’s UX Lead, Tom Hobbs, touched upon this in his post about Mobile Responsiveness in 2015 and Senior Developer Richard Eyres explores full responsiveness in his post entitled What is a Responsive Website? Both Richard and Tom are experts in their fields, and I urge everyone to read what they have to say.
One point worth noting about Richard’s piece, is that he points out that there is more than one way of making a website responsive. As an SEO and not a Developer, I won’t do it justice in this post, however I do recommend you read what he has to say on the topic. Reading his post will ensure that you know the technicalities of having a mobile friendly website.
The Big Question: Why is it now more important than ever to have a mobile responsive website?
Google announced that, as of 21st April 2015, mobile responsiveness will be a major ranking signal. What this means is that companies will need a mobile responsive website in order to maintain their search rankings. Those that do not will likely fall in rank. This is not a huge shock as SEOs have been predicting this for a long time (see our post on Five Google Updates in 2015) however now it is more than a prediction. Now it is a certainty.
In addition to the new algorithm, and unlike other algorithms in the past, the April 21st change will happen worldwide, being released in every country at once. This is contrary to the recent Google Pigeon update that was only released in the USA first.
What is also causing quite a stir in the world of SEO is that the new algorithm has been described as “real time”. Sites will instantly see a benefit in SEO by becoming mobile friendly, as soon as the Google bot has crawled the page. This does rather unfortunately work in two ways, as real time can also severely damage sites at the same time if (for some reason) a company decides to remove their mobile site.
How Will These Affect SERPs?
As of yet it is unclear as to how these will display on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page), however there are a few rumours flying around the web. There is word that the search results, just before the meta description, will display whether a site is mobile friendly and display those first. This was an observation and prediction by a few US based SEOs, however it is unclear on the effect of UK based searches as of yet.
If you do not currently have a mobile friendly website then it is time to invest and make a change. Falling in rankings can severely damage a website in the long term. Fix it now and avoid the drop.