Google’s New Mobile-Friendly Ranking Criteria: Here’s What You Need to Know

April 21, 2015, marked a new beginning for how people search for, and find your website. Google, which owns 83% of the mobile-search market, will now make mobile-friendliness a major ranking criteria for websites on its search platform. The change boils down to one important distinction: whether your website is fully optimized for mobile devices.

The newly implemented algorithms will favor responsive, mobile-friendly sites, and penalize sites that display poorly on mobile. Sites that are not responsive or mobile-friendly will suffer decreased search engine rankings. So if your site isn’t optimized for mobile, you will likely see a decrease in mobile traffic from Google searches.

Mobile-Friendly Test

To find out where you stand, you can use Google’s free assessment tool, which we’ll walk through now.

The tool is simple to use: just enter your website domain and click “analyze.” Within a matter of seconds, you’ll get an assessment of whether your website is mobile-friendly or not. If your website is fully optimized for mobile, you’ll get a success message like this:

Google_Mobile_Search_Update1

 

If your website is not fully optimized for mobile, you’ll see a message like this:

Google_Mobile_Search_Update2

Google does a great job of telling you the reasons why your website failed and then connecting you to resources that will help you make your website more mobile-friendly.

Let’s stop here and take a few moments so you can run your website through the test before continuing this discussion:

Run Mobile-Friendly Test Here.

Welcome back! If you passed with flying colors, then class is dismissed. If not, we have some homework to do…

Choose Your Approach

If your website is fully optimized for mobile, you have options! Google identifies three different website configurations as mobile-friendly:

  1. Responsive Design
  2. Dynamic Serving
  3. Separate URLs

Let’s focus on Google’s recommended design pattern, responsive design.

Responsive Design

Simply defined, a responsive website serves the same code, on the same URL, regardless of the visitor’s device, but can deliver the content differently (i.e., “responsively”) based on the user’s device (desktop, tablet, or mobile). Responsive design sizes and shuffles your site’s content to fit the size of the visitor’s screen without the visitor having to do anything.

Why Does Google Most Prefer Responsive Design?

For starters, website visitors like it and expect it. There are many reasons why responsive design is the best path to making a website mobile-friendly. For one, website visitors like it and expect it. Dealing with the same URL and the same content regardless of viewing device, the visitor experience is seamless and consistent. Furthermore, a Google study found that “nearly 75% of users prefer a mobile-friendly site… and 50% of people said that even if they like a business, they will use them less often if the website isn’t mobile-friendly.”

FAQs

I’m sure you have a few more questions about Google’s algorithm change and what you need to do.

I can’t completely redo my website right now. What should I do?

You may not need to fully commit to a redesign to comply with Google’s mobile-friendly requirements. One step you may take is to move your existing content (copy, images, etc.) to a responsive, mobile-friendly platform such as those available on WordPress.com.

Where can I find more information on my own?

If you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and dig into this on your own, check out Google’s web developer resources for mobile sites.

I know making adjustments to your website, especially on someone else’s terms, can be frustrating. However, this change should be great for you and your customers alike. Optimizing and modernizing your website for mobile will help you better manage your web presence, meet the needs of your existing and prospective customers, and will ultimately lead to more conversions and revenue for your business. Now who doesn’t like that?

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