Google announced back in February that a major update to its mobile search algorithm will go live today (Tuesday 21st April), which we believe will give a boost to the rankings of mobile-friendly site. We’re expecting a mobile-friendly designation on sites that work well on mobile devices and possibly an improvement in the ranking of mobile-friendly sites.
What will the change mean to businesses?
Google’s mobile search change will ensure visitors have the best user experience when visiting your website as, if it is mobile-friendly, the layout and functionality will be optimised for their particular device. The updated rules will also prioritise websites which have been designed to change to fit different screen sizes, depending on what device you are using – a site that resizes in this way is described as having a ‘responsive design’.
Responsive design is an approach to web design that creates a site’s layout for easier viewing on various devices. So, for example, you can view a website on a small mobile phone screen without having to resize it to fit.
With the sheer number of people using mobile devices nowadays, you should already be thinking of/have a responsive designed website.
What happens next?
From Tuesday 21st April, Google will start prioritising mobile-friendly websites so, if your website is not mobile-friendly, it will be probably be less prominent in any searches done on mobile phones, tablets, etc.
If you’re unsure whether your website has been mobile optimised, Google has an easy, online way to test all of your web page URLs to confirm that they are mobile-friendly. Simply visit https://www.google.co.uk/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/.
If Google’s online tool finds that your website is not mobile-friendly, you can either create a mobile version of your website or change it to a responsive design. The latter option is our suggestion as a responsive website will, firstly, be easier to update in one go rather than having a separate website for mobile users, which you have to manage and update separately to your full online site.
Secondly, your mobile-friendly and full online sites will have the same URL, which means visitors know exactly where to find you and don’t have to remember different web addresses for mobile phones, tablets and PCs.
The key is to optimise your website to make it more functional and easy to use. This includes making sure information can be found in only a few clicks and that it fits onto small screens so visitors can see it on their mobile phones.
If however you don’t have the money to move to a responsive design or you are looking to change your website design, layout, etc in the near future, creating a separate mobile-friendly website is a better idea in the meantime.