“Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact on our search results” Google stated.
Google have made the move towards rewarding mobile ready sites with improved Google rankings. A couple of years ago, content was key to achieving great SEO. It was all about the content… and links. Links were important too. But then Google started to factor in the quality of the user experience, which they measured as the speed of a website. In the then new search algorithm, pages that loaded quickly did better than pages that took an age. But speed is only part of the user experience story - design is also important. And so Google has factored that in too. Now to be clear, Google is not about to make subjective judgements on your colour scheme, your logo or your choice of font. At least not yet – it’ll come! What they are doing however, is ranking websites on their ability to adaptively render on different devices – desktop, tablet and mobile. It’s all about mobile browsing. Mobile browsing has been shown to be increasingly significant in successive consumer research surveys, and although at present this may convert to actual purchases on a desktop computer or in-store, some 46% of shoppers now say; ‘Mobile is the most important media source of information for their purchase’. And that figure will rocket when more transactional websites have a first class mobile view and consumer won’t feel they have to swap to the big screen to see the small print.
“Day by day, the number of devices, platforms,
and browsers that need to work with your site grows.
Responsive web design represents a fundamental shift
in how we’ll build websites for the decade to come.”
- Jeffrey Veen – author of “The Art & Science of Web Design”
Google has decided for us that Responsive web design is the preferred mobile solution, as they believe it to deliver the best user experience and it is less prone to errors than maintaining separate, dedicated mobile sites. And to be fair, they’re not wrong. So no arguments from us!
But what are the benefits of a mobile responsive designed website? Well, they should be highly flexible and with just an single build, they should work across all devices with very little maintenance required as content amends only have to be made once. Although responsive websites typically take a little longer to design and build than separate mobile sites, and therefore can be a little more expensive, this is offset though by the time and money saved by not having to duplicate any work or hosting two websites. And now there’s a new cost to factor in… what is your page 1 ranking worth to you? It’s fairly safe to say, that before long; no responsive... no page 1.
What criteria does Google Search look for? Key factors are compatible software for mobile devices with readable text that does not require the use of the zoom function; and properly-sized content, where it doesn't need horizontal scrolling and has adequately spaced links.
The good news is that Google allow you to check with their mobile friendly test tool, which lets you find out for yourself how your website rates. Check here Mobile-Friendly Test where google will let you know if your website has passed or failed, and will provide you with an “Awesome! This page is mobile-friendly” or a “not-mobile-friendly” and may even provide you some advice such as “text too small to read” or “links to close together”
With Google’s introduction, it’s not a decision you can’t consider or postpone to either maintain or improve your rankings. If Google search results are a key element in a business strategy and to remain competitive, companies are going to have to really consider mobile-friendly websites to stay ahead and in the game!