If you have a website, the question of whether it is mobile-friendly or not is very important. Hopefully your answer is, what are you talking about, my site IS mobile friendly!
However if your site is NOT mobile-friendly, it is something that needs to be addressed ASAP, and not just for painfully obvious reasons like abandonment rates for a site with a shopping cart that is not mobile-optimised.
As you may already know, Google launched mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal back in April 2015. This was an expected move as it had been speculated that mobile search would surpass desktop searches in the coming years. As projected, in 2015 it became official as mobile search surpassed desktop search, and has only continued to grow – as has the importance of having a mobile-friendly site. In fact Google just announced that starting in May of this year it will be boosting the effect of its mobile-friendly algorithm!
What Does This Mean?
Google will “start rolling out an update to mobile search results that increases the effect of the ranking signal”. This essentially means that this specific algorithm will be boosted. So, if your website is not mobile-friendly but is keeping up with a mobile-friendly competitor, this ranking boost will give your competitor the edge.
Google also say: “If you’ve already made your site mobile-friendly, you will not be impacted by this update.” This is interesting because, just as a site that is not mobile-friendly can be impacted negatively, you can also be positively impacted by this update if you are already mobile-friendly. It is a boost to an algorithm, so it makes sense that you would benefit from it if you have already optimised your site for mobile users.
So Where Do You Go From Here?
If you care about your website, traffic, revenue, and keeping your visitors happy, take a look at the chart below:
As you can see, mobile search surpassed desktop search, and that green line isn’t stopping there. In October 2015 it was reported that mobile search took over not only in the U.S., Japan, and eight other countries but worldwide, and there are no signs of it slowing down. This is technology, it keeps moving forward, users catch on, then ride with it and don’t look back – so if your site is not mobile-friendly your visitors will soon go over to your mobile-friendly competitors.
See the list below for the key advantages of going mobile-friendly:
- Improved user experience.
- All else equal, search engines will rank you higher than a non-mobile friendly site.
- Google labels your site as mobile friendly in the SERPs.
- Faster download speed.
It is clear you want your site to be with the green line in the chart above, however instead of asking yourself which line your site is, maybe the question should be: Which one of the following two images best describes your users’ experience?
Now that you’re convinced, let’s talk about the three options for implementing a mobile website.
Responsive web design
Adapts the layout to the user’s device, whether it is a smartphone, tablet, or desktop. Serves the same HTML code on the same URL.
This is a setup where the server responds with different HTML and CSS depending on user agent and on the same URL.
This serves different code to each device on separate URLs.
Google’s recommended approach is responsive design, and for good reason. As noted above, this mobile configuration has one URL with the same HTML regardless of what device the user is on – so users will benefit from great user experience no matter the screen size. This is also the recommended option because it makes it easier to maintain as you only have one page delivered to all devices. This not only makes your job easier, it also makes it easier for search engines to index, crawl, and organise content.
Making the switch may cost you some time and money, but if implemented correctly, and if you take care of your website, clients and visitors, this investment will soon pay for itself. The bottom line is, if you’re serious about your website and want to rank well in the SERPs, being mobile-friendly is not optional.
If you need help getting started, visit Google’s Getting Started guide for more information.