Posted: March 19, 2015
On April 21, 2015, Google is scheduled to make a significant change to how their search algorithm ranks their mobile search results as Google will begin to include how mobile-friendly your website is. This will have a big impact on search results, with some speculating it could affect more websites than the Penguin and Panda updates in the past.
What this update means is that if your website is not Responsive Design or does not have a separate Mobile Website (ie. on a subdomain like m.mywebsite.com), then your website will be affected in the mobile search rankings. How much your website will be affected depends on a number of factors, like the number of mobile visitors and how mobile-friendly your competition is. If your competitors have a mobile-friendly website and, say, 25% of your website’s visitors are using a mobile device, you can expect a significant drop in the number of mobile visitors and a large portion of that 25% could be lost, making for a large loss on the overall number of website visitors.
Google has always pushed the idea that access content should be quick and easy, which encompasses the idea of including strong usability methods in website design. Users accessing websites from a mobile phone should not be slowed down by having to load large images and code libraries that are meant for functionality on desktop computers. Therefore, Google believes that web pages that strip down these elements and still include the important content that users are searching for should be given preferred rankings as the user will be able to find the information they are searching for quicker.
Google has an online tool that will analyze your website and determine whether it is mobile-friendly or not.
Having tested this tool, it appears to only scan the page you enter, so if you enter just the domain for your website, it will only look at the homepage. The problem is that some websites have only a partial mobile version of their website, which might include the homepage and some other key pages but might not include a forum or other sections that were difficult to convert into mobile at the time of development.
Therefore, it’s important to check your website thoroughly and ensure that all pages are mobile-friendly.
You currently have two choices, you will either need to develop your website templates so they are in the Responsive Design format or build a separate Mobile Website. The recommended and best solution is to make your site Responsive, however this can be a daunting task for large websites that are hundreds of pages deep. In this case, a complete redesign is what’s needed.
There is no simple solution to this but Google has been pushing website operators to make sure their websites are mobile-friendly for several years, so it was only a matter of time before a significant change to Google’s algorithm such as this. If you do not have a mobile strategy, now is definitely the time to get one and to start aggressively updating your website to ensure you stay competitive online.