If you are a long-time subscriber to our newsletter, then you have probably heard me talk about the need for websites to be “mobile-friendly”. Basically what this means is that you need a website that will display well on the smaller screens of tablets and smartphones, as well as on desktop and laptop computers. Another term that is used in this discussion is the word “responsive”. These terms are similar, but slightly different.
While there is more than one way to have a mobile-friendly site, the point of the matter is that Google wants sites to work well on smaller devices and they have for quite some time now. You may be thinking, “Okay, so what”, and I wouldn’t blame you. However, it appears that the time for being complacent about the mobile-friendliness of your site is coming to an end.
The New Algorithm
Google will soon be rolling out a new change to their algorithm they use to determine site ranking, in their listings. This update will start on April 21, 2015 and is supposed to have a big impact on site listings. It is purported to be a more drastic change than their Panda and Penguin updates. If that is true, it could be a big problem for lots of site owners, since Panda and Penguin caused lots of issues for many sites.
What Should You Do?
The biggest thing site owners need to do is make sure their sites are mobile-friendly. There are a couple of ways you can check to see if your site qualifies.
First, you can do a search on Google through your smartphone or tablet. When you find your site’s listing, if Google considers it mobile-friendly, it will say so in the listing. You will see “Mobile-friendly” just under the link to your site and just before your site’s description.
The second thing you can try is using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test page. Just visit https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/ and type in your site’s web address. The test page will analyze the site and determine whether it is mobile-friendly or not.
My Site Is Not Mobile-Friendly! Should I be Worried?
This update could cause some serious problems. The Panda and Penguin updates caused some very high ranking sites to drop so far down in the listings as to be virtually non-existent. If this update is as bad, or worse, there is no telling what could happen. On the other side of that coin, it may not make much difference at all, for many sites. It really is hard to tell until it happens. I sometimes wonder if Google really even knows.
What I see as fairly obvious, however, is that Google is getting serious about making site owners bring their sites up to speed in the mobile world. It is reported that over 60% of searches are done on mobile devices these days. If you find that figure hard to believe, just take a moment and think of all of the people you see on a daily basis, with their eyes glued to a smartphone screen. We are becoming more mobile in our data and so are our browsing habits.
My advice is, if your site is not mobile-friendly, you should try to get it up to date as soon as you can. Even if Google doesn’t penalize your site (which they might), they certainly are not going to give you any points for a non-mobile site. In a world where how well your site ranks can make the difference of getting the sale, lead or contact, can you really afford to lose any ground?