Google recently introduced several changes to its apps, Google Play, and how mobile search engine results are presented, all in preparation for its algorithm released in April 2015. Just like Penguin and Panda, the new mobile update will impact the rankings of your search engine results pages (SERP). The latest update from Google places greater emphasis on the importance of mobile-friendly websites and considers a website’s mobile-friendliness when sharing search results. The update functions on a page-by-page basis, and is very definite in determining the mobile-friendliness of a website.
Mobilegeddon, as the update from Google is popularly called, is focused on providing a better web experience for the mobile user. For business owners and webmasters, this means that if their website does not clear Google’s mobile-friendliness test (you can check your website right now by using this tool), then their mobile search engine rankings could take a hit. As a natural consequence, they will lose out to competitors with mobile-friendly websites in terms of SERP ranking.
What does mobile-friendliness mean? It is the ability of websites and apps to be easily browsed and used on a smartphone. Mobile-friendly sites do not have to be pinched or zoomed on a phone, and offer large text, easy to push buttons, and swipability. They also include mobile websites with specific URLs, responsive design websites, and adaptive design websites.
Factors Determining Whether Your Site Is Mobile-Friendly
If you want to comply with Google’s latest update, here are some factors Google will look at when determining whether your site is mobile friendly or not.
The content of your website must re-size to match the width of the user’s screen and be easy to read and navigate, without a horizontal scroll bar.
Spacing of Touch Elements:
Clickable links and buttons need to be 12–20 pixels apart and easy to touch or tap on a smaller screen.
Browsers on most smartphones cannot render Flash-based content. Any page that is based on Flash will not load on a mobile phone and will be tagged by Google as unfriendly. To be sure, run your website through Google’s test tool. If you see the following message, your website is good to go.
How to Make Your Site Mobile-friendly
Google has given webmasters clear directions and specific guidelines on how to make their sites mobile-friendly:
Do Not Overhaul:
Your website might need just a few adjustments to make it mobile-friendly, instead of a complete makeover. Google’s tool can help you identify at least some of these areas.
Retain SEO Rankings:
Make sure your webmaster, or your website vendor, is well-versed in search engine optimization (SEO), so that you do not end up with a new mobile-friendly site that affects your existing desktop rankings with non-optimized titles.
Make sure to check that the links work on every page of your site and that all pages are loading properly.
Why Is Mobile-Friendliness Necessary
Gartner predicts that 9 out of 10 phones will be smartphones by 2018. Mobile-friendliness is important for business websites for a number of reasons:
- Delivers a good user experience
- Does not require zooming or tapping
- Is intuitive and responsive to use on mobile phones
- Complies with Google guidelines for SERP ranking
- Improves mobile SEO
- Supports other digital marketing initiatives
- Loads search results for optimized websites faster
On the downside, Google’s mobile-friendly update does not just make browsing on a mobile device easier. It actively pushes up websites that are custom built to be mobile-friendly. This means that if your business website does not have a mobile-friendly version that meets all of Google’s stipulations, your SERP rankings will drop almost immediately. This could be fatal for businesses that rely on digital marketing for their success
It is believed that that 91% of the people that use Google’s search engine click links that show up on the first page. Hence,if your business does not show up at least on the second page, you could have a hard time building a web audience organically.
Google can further push down a site’s SERP rankings if the site does not have mobile-friendly content, which basically means that the content does not load on mobile devices optimally. Google has made allowances and given webmasters some leeway by saying that a non-mobile-friendly website that delivers great content for a query will not be penalized in its search ranking.
Despite the assurances, the bottom line is that your site needs to be mobile-friendly and should comply with Google’s strict guidelines.