Google is implementing a significant change to the way it ranks websites in its search results on Tuesday, April 21, to favor sites that are mobile-friendly. This will affect all websites, blogs and landing pages. If your website is not fully optimized for mobile devices, you most likely will see a decrease in your ranking for mobile searches.
Google announced that they are making the change to reflect the increasing number of people who are using mobile devices to access the internet, and are changing their algorithms accordingly to give them the most relevant content in their search results. Google explains:
“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.”
Test Your Website’s Mobile-Friendliness
Luckily, Google has provided a quick, easy and free tool to help you determine whether your website is ready for the April 21 algorithm change implementation.
Simply enter the URL for your site, blog or landing page and within seconds, the free tool will tell you if your mobile rank will suffer as a result of the April 21 algorithm change. If Google deems your website mobile-friendly, you will see a message like this (along with a screen shot of how the Google bots “see” your website):
Congratulations! You’re ready for the April 21 algorithm change – go get yourself a cup of coffee to celebrate.
On the other hand, if Google deems that your website, landing pages or blog are not mobile-friendly, you will see a message like this:
Google will give you bullet points detailing why your content failed the mobile-friendly test. Some of these may be easily fixed by moving to a mobile optimized content management system, blog or landing page tool.
Responsive Web Design
If your website is not currently optimized for mobile, you should consider making it a priority. Not only in light of how it will affect your search engine rankings on Google after April 21, but because more and more people are using phones and tablets as their primary way to access the internet. If your site isn’t optimized to make your content easy for mobile and tablet users to view, you’re most likely losing out on key opportunities to convert site visitors into leads and (hopefully) customers.
Google recognizes three ways to make a site “mobile friendly” – responsive web design, dynamic serving and a mobile website. Google’s preferred design method is responsive web design, where your website has one URL (or address) and the content stays the same no matter what device it’s being viewed on – the website will adapt accordingly. Marketers like responsive websites because they’re easier to maintain since you only have to create and manage content for one site. Website visitors also prefer responsive sites because they get the same content no matter which device they’re using to view a website. Consequently, their user experience with your website is easy, consistent and reliable which helps reinforce a positive brand image.
Dynamic serving also only has one URL but the HTML content changes depending on whether it’s being viewed on a phone, tablet, etc. which can cause problems.
A mobile website means literally creating two different versions of your website – one for desktops and one for mobile devices. You will have two different URLs (web addresses) and need to maintain content on each site. This is the least desirable method for mobile optimization.
Looking to make your website responsive or have questions about improving your site’s search engine optimization? Get in touch with one of our website experts.