Google recently updated its algorithm to favor “mobile friendly” websites as the majority of Internet search happens on smartphones and tablets.
Rolled out on April 21, this update means Google’s web crawlers will give higher ranking to mobile friendly websites featuring responsive design.
Some are calling this “Mobilegeddon” because it will penalize websites designed for desktops and laptops. If you don’t have a mobile friendly site, you’re not alone. More than 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies will be impacted by this update, according to Techcrunch.
While many desktop/laptop websites stand to lose their search rankings, this update can be an opportunity to level the playing field for smaller companies, allowing you to hit the “reset” button on your SEO strategy.
How It Works
Let’s start with some perspective. With Google’s update, mobile friendly sites will rank better on mobile searches than sites designed for a computer. However, search rankings will remain unchanged on desktop/laptop sites conducted on similar computers.
So why bother converting to mobile? The trends show that searches on mobile devices have already surpassed desktop/laptop searches, accounting for 60 percent of all online searches, according to Marketing Land.
That essentially means that relying solely on a PC-based website is tantamount to throwing out 60 percent of your business leads. Okay, it’s a little more complicated, but you get the picture.
As more people rely on mobile phones for daily lives, mobile search rankings will eventually outweigh desktop search rankings. Losing Google ranking can cost companies revenue as 67.6 percent of clicks to most websites are generated by the first five results on a search page, according to the 2014 Advanced Web Ranking Study.
Perhaps you haven’t developed a mobile site because you are a B2B company whose leadership assumes most professionals are still using work computers for purchasing decisions.
Think again. According to the IDG Global Mobile Survey 2014, executives prefer mobile devices over computers when conducting research during and after work hours.
How to Define Mobile Friendly
Forester Research estimates that 38 percent of sites for companies with at least 1,000 employees do not meet Google’s criteria for mobile friendliness.
Meeting these standards can seem intimidating if you’re a small to medium-sized company, but it’s actually fairly simple. For now, Google essentially defines websites as mobile friendly if they change size and shape to display websites on a smartphone operating on iOS, Windows Phone, or Android.
Not sure if your site meets these standards? Google offers a free tool that tests any site’s mobile readiness, but that is just one of Google’s 200 ranking factors that site owners need to take into consideration when trying to remain in good standing.
Judy Tsai, chief development officer at esd & associates, says a simple, responsive design is the best, most cost-effective way to address this update and get into the mobile game. Specifically, she recommends the following:
- Responsive Design – According to Google, this responsive web design (RWD) is a setup where the server always sends the same HTML code (which adjusts for screen size) to all devices, while CSS is used to alter the rendering of the page on the device.
- Page Loading – Google says a slow-loading web page is a common problem for websites that are not mobile friendly. Slow times can be caused when Google’s crawler is forced to crawl a site more than once to retrieve different versions of content.
Visit our recent blog at esdandassociates.com to learn more about some of the design and development trends in mobile and responsive websites.