According to a recent Google announcement:
“Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.”Google
Over the past few years, Google algorithm updates have wreaked havoc for small and large businesses alike. For those that rely on search engine traffic to sustain and grow their operations, April 21 will be nothing short of a nightmare if their website isn’t mobile-friendly.
Why is Mobile Web Design Such a Big Deal?
According to Comscore, 60% of all Google searches are made on mobile.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, after all, mobile devices have taken over our personal and professional lives. It only makes sense that an emphasis be placed on mobile user experience, and honestly, it’s about time Google pulled the trigger on those who have failed to evolve and adapt with modern web standards.
Google Wants You to Be Successful Online. Seriously.
This is the first time Google gives a specific date for an algorithm roll out. The Penguin and Panda algorithm updates affected so many business, in such a drastic manner, that Google is giving business owners a chance to fix their website prior to April 21.
The update will focus on mobile usability:
- Ranking increases for sites with positive mobile usability metrics (low bounce rate, high time on page, high conversion rates etc)
- Ranking decreases for sites with negative usability metrics (high bounce rate on mobile, low TOP, low conversions etc)
Is Your Website Safe?
If your website isn’t mobile friendly, then no.
Even if your website is responsive, if it doesn’t meet Google’s standards, then you will be affected.
Separate Mobile Websites Will Come Under Fire
If your business operates a desktop version and a mobile version of the same website, chances are you’ll be affected. This also applies to those using a software or plugin to make their sites “mobile friendly”.
Google prefers a responsive site over a separate site, however, if your website’s code doesn’t meet certain standards, your site will still be affected.
Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test Page
Even if you are absolutely sure your website will meet Google’s standards I recommend you run your site through the Google Developers Mobile Friendly Test.
If the test is successful, you should see a message like the one below:
Other Factors to Consider
Making your website responsive is only half the battle, you still need to ensure your website loads as fast as possible. Studies have shown that users will abandon a website if it takes more than three seconds to load- the quicker they leave, the higher your bounce rate. In case you’re wondering, a high bounce rate isn’t good.
You can check your website’s speed by using Google’s Page Speed Insights Tool which gives you a grade on your page speed with recommendations.
This is another important factor that can also affect your site speed. Shared hosting plans are cheap, but you are at the mercy of all the other websites on the same server. Virtual Private Servers or Dedicate Servers through GoDaddy, WP Engine, Amazon or SiteGround are a little more expensive but they are worth the money.
Content Delivery Network:
Consider using a Content Delivery Network, or CDN. A CDN puts your website on virtual servers around the world so that the user will be loading the site from server nearest to them with more speed.
Clean Up Your Code:
Poorly written or bloated code will affect site speed and load times. Make sure to hire a good developer that is proficient in HTML, CSS, jQuery and PHP as these are the most common web languages used in custom websites or websites using a Content Management Software like WordPress, Joomla or Drupal.
April 21 is Just Around the Corner
If you haven’t signed up or submitted your site through Google’s Webmaster Tools, I definitely recommend you start there. It’s free and you gain access to important resources that help you make sure you are always in Google’s good graces.
The date for Mobilegeddon (mobile armageddon) is just around the corner. Utilize the tools listed in this blog to help detect errors on your existing site and take action before your site gets penalized.