Google has many algorithms they use to serve the most relevant search results to you, and they update them around 500 times a year. These updates usually fly under the radar, and do not have any significant impact on the ranking of your business website, but the announcement from Google on Tuesday, April 21 has made everyone’s ears perk up and pay attention as techies warn of a looming “mobilegeddon.”
The effects of this change will influence search results worldwide in a significant way. For businesses, knowing the details of this update can help explain changes in ranking, and the amount of organic search traffic your website receives.
Mobile use officially surpassed desktop use by Americans as of February 2014. This means that potential customers are more likely to search for you via their mobile device than on their computer. Google’s new update will now reward mobile-friendly websites by giving them a higher rank when a search is conducted on a mobile device.
With the majority of your potential customers accessing the internet via tablet or smart phone, not having a mobile solution for your website is no longer an option. And, as the number of screen sizes grow, making your website responsive becomes crucially important to the success of your business.
What is Responsive Design?
Responsive design is the practice of building websites on a fluid grid that adjusts to the screen resolution of any device: smartphones, tablets, laptops and more. Your website will automatically adapt to give potential customers the best viewing experience regardless of what device they are using.
Benefits of Responsive Design
1. Avoid a high bounce rate: 48% of users say that if a website is not responsive, it is a sign to them that the company does not care.
2. Reach more customers: Over half of all local searches are done on a mobile device. Ensure that potential customers are able to easily interact with your site on their mobile device.
3. Better user experience: Have you ever viewed a website where you had to zoom in and scroll around the page to view all of the text and images? How long did you stay on this page before getting frustrated and leaving? A responsive website will give your viewers a pleasant mobile experience by adjusting to their screen size.
4. Convert more viewers into customers: 67% of customers were more likely to purchase products or services from a mobile-friendly website.
5. Save time and money: There is no extra cost of developing and maintaining a separate mobile site, so all of your time and resources can be spent making your company website the best it can be.
6. Avoid duplicate content: Having a separate mobile site will cause you to have the same content repeated twice. Google negatively ranks websites that have duplicate content.
7. Benefit from one URL: When your website is accessible from one URL, it is easier for viewers to find, share, and interact with your website.
8. Google officially recommends responsive site: Google’s Web Master Trends Analyst has gone on record saying responsive websites are easier for Google to crawl and index.
And now, Google has released a significant new ranking algorithm that will not only label your site as mobile-friendly, but will demote your website if it is not mobile-friendly, placing you lower in search results than your mobile-friendly competitors. The algorithm will take a few days to a week to take effect globally.
The fastest way to see if your website is mobile-friendly is to pull up your site on your phone. You can also use Google’s mobile friendly testing tool (https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/) if you are still unsure. This tool will give you a yes or no answer to whether or not Google views your website as mobile-friendly.
Google determines if a page is mobile-friendly every time it’s crawled and indexed. Once you implement a mobile solution, like a responsive design, you can ask Google to re-crawl and index your site, and Google will become aware of the change.
I want to stress though, that while the mobile-friendly change is important, Google will continue to use a variety of qualifications to rank your website. The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal. Be assured, if your site contains high quality content that is relevant to what people will search for, then it can potentially maintain a high rank if it is not mobile-friendly.
Lauren Dingus is the web and graphics designer at Speros, responsible for the website development division including high-end graphic design, integrated functionality and security components. For information, contact Lauren at email@example.com or 912.354.8900