On April 21, 2015, Google came out with a statement which said they would be making some changes to the way mobile SERPs work.
Basically put, if your website doesn’t qualify as “mobile-friendly” by Google’s new Mobile-Friendly Test, you will be dumped down the mobile SERPs and your overall PR will eventually start to drop as well.
What does Mobile-Friendly mean?
There are two ways to look at a mobile friendly site; either it is responsive, or it uses a separate mobile template altogether.
The first option – responsive – is going to be both the most affordable, and usually the easiest/fastest depending on where you are in the development of your website. A responsive site will have a few distinct traits like: everything scales based on browser resolution, elements are built with touch devices in mind and it keeps everything on 1 domain.
I’m not the only one who thinks responsive web-design is the way to go, Google also shares this mindset.
The second option – having a whole mobile website created – is honestly not the best route to take. Not only does this require setting up a sub-domain to house the mobile site, but it also requires a lot more money and a lot of extra time.
The end goal of both options are the same though – to provide users on all platforms a positive viewing experience, regardless of the medium used – this is extremely important.
Is Your Site Mobile-Friendly?
Google explains that the reasoning behind this update is to more effectively provide mobile users with a high-quality internet experience. Google wants to give mobile users easy access to websites that are going to load fast and look nice on mobile devices.
That said, this ranking algorithm update won’t effect desktop SERPs.
Again, if you want to check if your site qualifies as mobile-friendly by the big G, you can do so with their Mobile-Friendly Test.
Why Mobile is Important
Some people might be skeptical about how Google could force websites to conform to their new system, but you can’t deny the fact that Google runs the show – and if you don’t follow their rules, you won’t get ranked.
With mobile devices becoming increasingly popular to use as a search tool, it’s also becoming more important to make sure that your website is optimized for these viewers. In fact, since way back in 2010, the use of mobile devices to browse has literally doubled the total internet usage.
This year (2015), mobile searches are set to surpass desktop searches. That is why mobile is important.
Not only is it important to have a mobile optimized website, but it’s just as crucial that it loads fast as well. This is done by making sure images render at the proper size and that basically every element has been built with slower mobile connections in mind.
You can see what’s slowing down your site’s load time with Google’s PageSpeed Insights
What Can You Do?
If you’ve built your website using a CMS like WordPress or Squarespace, then it is likely that your website’s template already has some level of responsiveness built-in. If not, well, we’ve already discussed why that is important and you should get on it!
Using a CMS makes this whole process significantly easier. It could seriously be as simple as just picking a new theme. If you’ve purchased a premium theme that isn’t responsive… I feel for ya.. Read on!
If your website isn’t responsive, or doesn’t have a secondary mobile template, you’re really going to want to take steps to have that rectified. Mobile sites might become more popular than desktop sites one day, in fact, they’re on course to do so this year.
Here are some options to get your site up to snuff:
Hire a Freelancer
There are thousands of skilled freelancers on sites like eLance.
All you have to do is create the job posting and select the best bid!
Here are a couple tips on how to select a good freelancer:
- Check their past reviews for both positive & negative feedback, even the best freelancers have a bad review or 2
- Talk to them before you award the job! You would be surprised what you can find out about someone within the first couple of messages.
Hire a Local Professional
Although much more expensive than hiring a freelancer, I can almost guarantee that there are numerous skilled professionals within your area.
All you have to do is look!
If they’re good at what they do, they should appear on the first page, beneath the Ads.
Just search for something like “<your area> SEO” or “<your area> web design” and you’ll be on your way!
If you’re skilled enough with web development you might be able to take your old design and make it responsive.
There are tutorials for this on sites like StackExchange.
Pick a New Template
If you’re using a CMS and your current template isn’t responsive, you can fix that by simply finding another template.
In some cases it can be as simple as downloading a plugin, although I don’t really recommend the plugin route.
As you can see, you’ve got options available. I’m sure there are other options to choose from, but these are just some that just come to mind right now; and are probably some of your best bets to get a responsive site in the works.
Having a mobile-friendly site is possibly the most important thing you could have when it comes to actually owning a website… besides the content and everything else that makes a site what it is.
Tools Related to Mobile-Friendliness
Pingdom Speed Test: tools.pingdom.com/fpt/
Google’s Pagespeed Insights:https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insi…
Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-fri…
Google’s Mobile-Friendly FAQ:http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.ca/2015/04/faqs-april-21st-mobile-friendly
If you have any comments or suggestions, leave them in the comments section below. We’re always interested in hearing your input!