Starting April 21, Google will be expanding its use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This means business owners will have to optimize their websites for mobile devices if they want to stay relevant and continue to rank well in Google search results.
Over the past few years, a number of our clients have asked us to help them make their websites more mobile-friendly. Since Google’s announcement, we’ve received an increasing amount of inquiries about how this algorithm change will affect businesses (and their SEO results) whose sites are not yet mobile-friendly.
In this post, I’ll go over the importance of Google search rankings and mobile-friendliness, and discuss what your next steps should be in preparation for “Mobilegeddon”.
Why does ranking well in Google search results matter?
More than 90% of web experiences start at a search engine and there are over 640 million domains on the World Wide Web. Considering 75% of users don’t look past the first page of search results, maintaining high search rankings is critical to reaching your target audience and keeping your brand top-of-mind amongst heavy competition.
Google determines your site’s rank based on a long list of criteria which includes whether or not your site uses meta descriptions, SEO titles – and now more than ever – if your site is mobile-friendly.
Why does being mobile-friendly matter?
In 2014, the number of global mobile users officially exceeded desktop users.
According to Google, mobile searches will surpass desktop searches in 2015. Since Canadians are using devices other than a desktop computer to browse the Internet (e.g. tablet, smartphone, wearable device, or smart TV), it’s reasonable that Google is asking business owners to have adaptable websites that can fit multiple screen sizes.
Being mobile-friendly doesn’t just benefit consumers and Google – it’s good for business owners too. Mobile devices have become an important tool in purchasing decisions, both for products and services. More than 87% of smartphone users have used their mobile device to look for local information, and 89% of those searches result in an action – whether it be visiting the business (72%), connecting with the business (69%), or making a purchase (36%).
What’s more, consumers are using their mobile devices to inform their purchasing decisions. The most common mobile searches are related to reviews, price comparisons, or checking out competing businesses. By having a mobile-friendly site, you can reach consumers before your competitors do.
How do I know if my site is mobile-friendly?
You can quickly check using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.
What do I do if my site is not mobile-friendly?
There are two options that can help ensure your business is ready for Mobilegeddon.
- Build a version of your website that is optimized specifically for mobile users
This means you can better control mobile users’ experience on your website by decreasing the amount of content you show, or by offering special mobile-only content.
- Implement a responsive website design
By building a responsive website that is optimized for all standard dimensions and resolutions, you can ensure your website adapts seamlessly for desktop and mobile users. This can be a challenging task, but in the end it will save you time and money because changes to code, content, or design can be done in one place, rather than having to make updates to every version of your website.
Over the next months, we expect to see more changes to Google’s search algorithm in favour of mobile-friendly website designs – especially with the rise of new mobile technologies that have been making headlines such as smartwatches and smartbands.
The sooner you optimize your website for mobile, the sooner you can start using Google to your advantage, rather than to your hindrance.