Knowing that websites should be mobile-friendly is nothing new. With more people than ever accessing the Internet from smartphones and other mobile devices, brands that have wanted to be able to connect with the largest audience possible understood that a site should be mobile-friendly for the highest degree of success.
However, many have waited to take action on it in a serious way. With Google’s latest announcement, that may no longer be an option. Beginning April 21, sites that want to rank higher in search results must be mobile friendly; it’s as simple as that.
Google’s news release on Thursday, February 26 came in two parts.
First, there will be more mobile-friendly websites than ever before in standard search results. This is happening because the search giant is officially converting mobile-friendliness into a ranking signal. In the past, Google has labeled mobile-friendly sites in search results. On April 21, instead of merely being labeled as mobile-friendly, sites that are configured for mobile devices will actually rank higher than those that are not.
Second, there will be more apps and app-related content in search results. Google will be using information from indexed apps as factors in ranking for users who have the apps in question installed. For users who use apps on a regular basis, it will be a nice change of pace. For those that don’t, there will not be much of a difference.
What it Means for Your Website
Put simply, the announcement means that if your website is not mobile friendly – as in, works as well on a mobile device as on a full screen – your rankings are about to suffer the consequences. In the past, it was sufficient to limit images and to check how a standard site looked on a smaller screen. Now, each website will be put to the test prior to being displayed and ranked accordingly.Google claims that the changes will be “significant.”
The time to act is now. Following are steps you can take today to ensure your website is up to the test on April 21.
Create a Mobile-Friendly Website
This is a given. If you have yet to act on creating a mobile-friendly website, get started today. 34% of Internet users are using mobile devices, so, even if Google’s change wasn’t around the corner, this would still be a good idea.
You have multiple options that include:
- A responsive site. Existing websites can be redone so that all objects on the screen remain the same but change in how they are viewed based on the browser width of the visitor.
- An adaptive site. In this case, the website’s URL stays the same but the server sends different code to the viewer depending on which device is in use.
- A separate site. Generally, separate sites are hosted on different domains or folders. They work parallel to standard sites and redirect mobile users to the mobile version of the website.
Choosing the right option for your site is essential. Generally, working with a web designer with experience creating mobile sites is a good first option. Because a change like this takes time, it’s best to act quickly to get started.
Test Your Website
Google isn’t leaving webmasters out in the cold with the large-scale changes that are currently underway. Instead, they’ve created a “mobile-friendly test” tool that allows them to type in a URL and to see the results. The test is designed to analyze URLS and to report if the page has a mobile-friendly design or not.