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Mobile friendly websites :: what they are and why it matters

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Mobile friendly websitesGoogle announced back in February the next big algorithm update and it’s all about mobile.

What’s the big change?

Google will be using mobile friendliness as a ranking factor from 21st April 2015.

What is mobile friendliness?

Well, let’s start with what is definitely isn’t. A website that does not display or function adequately on a smart phone, tablet or any small screen device in order for the user to perform a task is definitely not mobile friendly.

The user’s task may be a simple as checking a phone number or reading a blog post, but if the site uses technology that cannot be displayed on all mobile devices, such as flash, the user will likely struggle.

So if the user can read your website it’s friendly, right?

Not quite. If you visit your website on your mobile and you can see the menu, the logo and the text, just like you would on a regular computer, only smaller, then your site is mobile friendly but not friendly enough for Google.

You see, you will have to pinch, zoom, swipe and sweat to see all the information you need.  Not a great user experience by anyone’s standards.

Which brings us on to what is mobile friendly?

A website that displays easily and quickly on a mobile device.  A mobile friendly site is easy to navigate through mobile friendly menus and text that is a suitable size to read without zooming in and out.  Buttons matter too – big enough to press with a finger – even pudgy ones like mine!  There are other factors that determine mobile friendliness but these are the main ones. For further reading we recommend Google’s common mistakes article here.

So how do you know if your site meets Google’s requirements?

Test it.  It’s quick and easy, just use the Google Mobile-Friendly Test.  Enter your URL and give it a couple of minutes to show the results.

If you want a more in-depth analysis you can use Google Webmaster Tools.  From your dashboard go to Search Traffic > Mobile Usability.

If you’re not sure where to start, simply sign up for a free 30 minute consultation – we can guide you through the test and offer some helpful suggestions as to what to do next.

What to do if your site is not mobile friendly

This depends on the results of the test.  It could be that a few simple tweaks to your design and your site will meet Google’s requirements.  For others it may require a redesign so the site responds differently to visitors using a mobile.

What are the risks of not being mobile friendly?

Google uses thousands of different factors to choose the best results to display to searchers and this is just one of them.  However, it is an important one.

Google have confirmed that this will impact mobile search results heavily – i.e. the results it displays when a user is searching using a mobile device.  In our experience, this doesn’t have as big an impact as regular search results for most B2B websites.

That doesn’t mean if you operate a B2B site you can ignore this update.  Google have also said that this is a global ranking factor, and it is expected that mobile  friendliness will have an impact on ranking for sites, even when a searcher is not using a mobile device.  As with all algorithm updates, only time will show us how big an impact this will have.

How can this change help you?

If your site is mobile friendly and passes the Google test you may see an improvement in your rankings as non-mobile friendly competitors suffer the consequences of this latest update.

3 Things you can do right now

  1. Take the  Google Mobile-Friendly Test.
  2. Check your rankings now and diarise checking again every couple of weeks.
  3. Make an action plan – if you need some help request a free consultation for free, straightforward advice.

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