A few times a year, Google rolls out major updates for the way that results are ranked within their search engine. The most recent happened on April 21st, when they announced that mobile friendly pages will now be given precedence in search results.
While Google holds the details of their updates pretty close to the vest, there’s a good bit of information that we can parse out of their original announcement as well as the FAQ I linked above.
To begin, you first need to realize that Google’s top priority is a good user experience. In their minds, people will keep using their search engine as long as they have a positive experience and find what they’re looking for. On the other hand, people who don’t have a good experience will stop using the search engine and go somewhere else.
If you take into account that roughly 97% of the company’s revenue comes from their Adwords program, it makes sense that they want to keep as many people as possible searching with Google. People will only advertise with them if there are actually eyes there to see their posts.
Non-mobile responsive websites kill the user experience
The Pew Research Center reports that “as of May 2013, 63% of adult cell owners use their phones to go online.” And it’s smart to assume that percentage has only gone up.
If your website still isn’t designed with the mobile experience in mind, you’re missing out on a lot of traffic by ignoring this huge audience that uses their phones to get online.
Maile Ohye, Developer Programs Tech Lead at Google, referenced this trend in Google’s blog post, even saying that “more people are going ‘mobile only’ — either because they never had a desktop or because they won’t replace their existing desktop…. A non-mobile-friendly site may not see many mobile visitors precisely for that reason.”
Just think about the experience you have when you use a mobile device to go on a badly designed website. Do you want your customers to have that kind of negative experience?
How to tell if your site is mobile friendly
Lucky for you, Google has a super easy-to-use tool that will help you gauge the responsiveness of your website: the Mobile-Friendly Test. Take a page from your site and paste the URL into the tool. If it passes the test, you will see the following:
On the other hand, if your page happens to fail the test you’ll see this unfortunate message:
What to do if your website doesn’t pass the test
You need to act quickly if you don’t want to be penalized by Google’s new algorithm updates. I have a few resources on hand that should help you figure out what to do next:
- Check out Google’s guide to mobile-friendly websites.
- Specifically, you’ll want to read Google’s Mobile SEO guide.
- Take a look at your Mobile Usability report in Webmaster Tools.
You’ve worked hard to get good rankings in the Google search results. Don’t let that effort go to waste just because you didn’t adjust to a new algorithm change. Be sure to check in on Google’s Webmaster Central Blog every so often to stay on top of future updates. And of course, check in with me for more articles that will help keep your website and marketing in tip-top shape!