At MINDSCAPE, we have been advising clients to build mobile-optimized sites for years, mainly because of the dramatic improvements to the user experience when using a mobile
device like a smartphone or tablet. Whether it’s a responsive design that repositions site content automatically as the screen size varies or a mobile-detecting site that serves specific content and design based on the device used, mobile design is a critical component for ensuring that all users (especially the exponentially increasing number of mobile users) get a full, rich website experience however they are accessing your site.
Well, Google agrees. In fact, mobile optimization is at the forefront of their latest algorithm update (You know, those cryptically named updates like Panda and Hummingbird). On Google search results pages, mobile-friendliness will not only have an impact on user experience, but will also have a DIRECT impact on a site’s ranking performance. That is, sites optimized for mobile will rank higher than those that aren’t.
In the screenshot below, you can see an example of this change. Notice the label underneath the first search result that says “Mobile-friendly” Now, look right below it — Coffee Bean Direct does not have the mobile-friendly label.
So, how does this affect you? And what makes a site mobile friendly anyway?
If your site is mobile optimized, you have nothing to worry about! Good job! If your site is not optimized, you may find that your rankings (and in turn, your traffic) begin to drop. You may lose your “spot” at the top of the search results page, or you may be bumped from the first page all together!
If you’re not sure whether your site is mobile optimized, here are a few things to look for:
- Does your site use Flash for any reason? If so, Google will see that as a negative strike in terms of mobile-friendliness.
- Does your site’s design adapt to different browser sizes or screen sizes? If so, that’s called “responsive,” and is a good sign for mobile optimization!
- Do you find that links and buttons are just way too small to tap without “pinching and zooming”? If so, your site may not be mobile friendly, and may be penalized.
- The easiest way to check is to simply do a Google search for your website, and look for the “Mobile-friendly” label.
Whether we are happy or not about all of Google’s changes, they can have an enormous impact on a business’s online presence, and it’s critical to be aware of algorithm changes, and make the required site modifications to adapt to them. With 89% of smartphone users actively using Google to perform web searches, the market is simply too big to ignore!
If you’d like to talk with someone about your site, or are worried that it might not live up to Google’s mobile-friendliness standards, please give us a call! We’ll be happy to help out (even if it just means telling you you’re totally mobile-optimized!)
(Don’t worry, the irony is not lost on us that this blog isn’t yet mobile optimized! But hang tight — we’re working on it!)