It has been well known among webmasters for over a year now that not having a mobile friendly website will severely impact website rankings. Some businesses though choose to ignore it or do not really understand how it can affect their business. They see that their website is functioning, even if it is not mobile friendly, and they instead focus their efforts on non-web assets of their business.
Google’s Mobile-Friendliness Algorithm update was implemented in 2015 just as mobile device usage was overtaking desktop usage to access the web. In May 2016, Google started rolling out updates to mobile search results that boosted the mobile friendly signal. This meant that mobile ready websites scored even better than they did when the algorithm was first introduced. To test mobile-readiness, Google released a helpful online tool: Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.
Google’s main goal was to prepare the market for the inevitable rise of mobile web surfing. If websites were not prepared to display properly on smartphones, for instance, it could hurt the integrity of the search engine’s fine-tuned results. Therefore, during Google’s infamous Mobilegeddon, all websites had to be mobile friendly or they would endure Google’s wrath with a penalty of lower rankings. With studies showing that a business has five to seven seconds to convince a user that they have found the webpage they were looking for, a site that is not mobile friendly risks losing a potential customer. Also, the chances of it appearing on the first page of a Search Engine Result Page are slim unless the search query is very specific.
What we are really talking about here is responsive web design. A website is determined to be mobile-friendly or “responsive” if it adjusts the display to accommodate various screen sizes such as smartphones, tablets, and desktops without using multiple URLs for the same page. All responsive designs use the same URL that adjusts to the device it’s being viewed on. Non-responsive sites will be difficult to read on a mobile device because the font will be small and buttons will be difficult to click. This approach to designing websites has become known as “Mobile First.” This means that the way a website looks on a mobile device is the first consideration in the design. All qualified website designers/developers know these new rules.
Google uses a pass/fail basis to determine if a site passes the mobile-friendliness test. The site must satisfy front and back-end requirements. The criteria used by Google to determine whether a website is mobile-friendly includes (as per HeBS digital):
- Avoiding software not common on mobile devices, like Flash
- Incorporating readable text without zoom
- Sizing content to the screen to eliminate scrolling
- Placing links far enough apart to be selected and tapped easily
- Ensuring quick page load speeds
There has been plenty of warning about the mobile-friendly landscape and businesses that have not paid attention are probably paying dearly for it right now. They may be wondering why the last half of 2015 produced less traffic on their website. Since Google has boosted their algorithm, businesses with these non-responsive sites will be left wondering even more.
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