Google recently announced that, starting April 21, they’ll officially count the mobile-friendliness of websites as a ranking factor. It’s a big deal (and not just in my admittedly nerdy world).
This move really confirms what many of us had already guessed – Google has hinted for a while that mobile sites may see a bump in the search results. For example, last year Google rolled out labels for mobile searchers to let them know which sites would look best on their devices:
It’s also no surprise, since more people now access the Internet via mobile devices than desktops. It’s a mobile world now, and we all need to be ready.
Test Your Site’s Mobile-Readiness
If you don’t have a mobile-friendly site, expect your rankings to take a hit. The first step is to determine if your site is mobile friendly or not. You can check to see how Google sees your site using the Mobile Friendly test.
Hopefully, you’ll see this:
If you do, congratulations. (If you don’t, we’ll tell you how to handle that in a minute.) But there’s more to consider – you should also analyze your mobile traffic to make sure your mobile site is as effective as it can be.
Optimize Your Mobile Site
Are you seeing high bounce rates, or low engagement metrics? If so, revisit your mobile site experience and determine if there are changes that need to be made:
- Make sure it’s easy for visitors to complete their objectives. When designing for mobile, that means streamlining the experience – giving priority to important tasks over unnecessary images, copy or secondary calls to action on key pages.
- Adjust font sizes so text is easy to read without zooming.
- Make links and buttons easy to tap, placing them far enough apart so a user can’t hit the wrong link by mistake.
- Make sure your content is supported on mobile devices. For example, never use Adobe Flash for animations or video. Use HTML 5, which is fully supported.
- Make sure every mobile page loads quickly. Use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to test yours.
Not Mobile-Ready? It’s Decision Time
If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, you have a decision to make: a) Create a mobile version of your website, or b) Build a responsive website.
A mobile site exists separate from your main site. (The URL looks like this: m.example.com). These sites are built from the ground up to optimize the mobile user’s experience. And they eliminate the need to redesign your main business website. When a mobile user visits your site, they’re seamlessly redirected to the mobile version instead.
But the ideal approach is to build a responsive site. (Google thinks so, too.) A responsive website is designed to automatically adjust to your screen, whether that’s on a desktop or mobile device. Plus, you have just one site to maintain, and you aren’t splitting traffic and diluting the SEO value of your main site.
The downside to responsive? Depending on the complexity of your website, it could require a significant investment up front.
But when you create the kind of site both search engines and users love, you’ll earn that investment back before Google rolls out their next big update.