If you are a website owner, you already know that keeping up with Google is a never-ending challenge. You are aiming for a moving target when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), as the criteria for ranking your site is always changing. Since organic search can be a tremendous source of free traffic for your sites, it would be a mistake to simply ignore the always-evolving landscapes of enterprise or local SEO. By taking the time and effort to keep up with the times and adjust your site accordingly, you stand a chance at staying one step ahead of the competition.
In their latest announcement, Google has indicated that sites which are mobile-friendly will receive a boost in the ranking signals starting in May of 2016. That's next month! What does this mean for you? Read on to find out!
What is a Mobile-Friendly Website?
Just as the name would indicate, a mobile-friendly (also known as responsive) site is one that is designed with mobile devices in mind. As you may already know, the majority of internet activity today takes place on mobile devices, meaning it is more important than ever to present sites in a mobile format. Of course, your site still needs to look and function properly on a desktop or laptop computer as well. For that reason, responsive website design – from which it is determined what kind of device the visitor is using before serving the appropriate format – is best.
Is It Hard to Create Responsive Websites?
No! There are a number of ways in which you can create a responsive site without going out of your way or tearing down your old site entirely. If you use WordPress like so many others, you should be able to install multi-device friendly themes that will automatically provide you with the responsiveness you need. Even if you don’t use WordPress, mobile-friendly design is something that is well-within the skills of most web developers.
Is Google the Only Reason to Change?
Of course not. While the organic search rankings are important to the success of your website, designs that are compatible with phones, tablets, and other devices should be implemented even without this ‘push’ from Google. The overall goal of your site should be to provide your users with the best experience possible, and that is only going to happen if you serve them a site which looks great on their device of choice. If your site looks great on a laptop, for example, but terrible on a smartphone, you are going to be giving a disappointing experience to a large percentage of your visitors.
As is the case with all of SEO, you should always be thinking about your real-world visitors first and foremost. Doing everything you can do to impress a search bot might be tempting, but earning organic traffic isn’t going to do you any good if your human visitors don’t like what they find. Think about the actual people who will be visiting your site first, and worry about the search rankings after that.
Will Your Mobile Site Immediately Move to the Top Spot on Google?
It is important to note that this is just an ‘increase of the ranking signal’, not a complete redo of the entire search algorithm. There are still many, many factors that are included in producing search results, and mobile-friendliness is just one of those factors. So, while making sure your site also works great on smartphones and tablets by May 2016 is a great idea, you should not expect to suddenly shoot up the rankings past all of your non-mobile-friendly competition. SEO is endlessly complex, and there will never be one single thing that you can do to ‘beat’ the system.
What Makes for a Great Mobile-Friendly Site?
Ideally, your users should have a seamless experience when visiting your site, regardless of what kind of device they are using. So, if they first visit your site on a phone, and then later return on their computer, the experience should be the same (although it will look different). The point of a website is to deliver information to a visitor, and you never want the design or the user experience to get in the way of that goal. Whether you deliver written content, videos, product reviews, information about your business, or anything else, a great, responsive website design will make it as easy as possible for your visitors to consume what you offer.
Hopefully, your website is already compatible with both desktop and device formats. If it is, you don’t need to do anything further – as you will already benefit from the boost in the search rankings that will arrive next month via the Google update. However, if you don’t yet have a responsive site in place, now is the time to get started. While building a new, responsive website from scratch is now standard practice in today's digital world, it is more challenging to make the transition if your site is currently out of date. Whatever the case may be, we are here to help!
Once you have had the work completed and your site is officially mobile-friendly, you will be able to sit back and feel confident that your website design is doing the best it can to impress Google and move up the ranks!