Google Cracks Down on Mobile 'Unfriendly’ Websites
Every now and then Google cracks the whip and shockwaves are felt around the online world. Well, it has happened again – Google has started sending warnings to websites that it deems are not mobile friendly. Google has already started to add a ‘mobile friendly’ label to websites in the search engine results pages (serps).
UPDATED MARCH 13, 2015:
Google have formally announced that the cutoff date for website mobile readiness is April 21st - after this date google will officially be using mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor. Furthermore, mobile google search (via app or mobile browser) will now be prioritised - Mobile 'unfriendly' websites will now appear lower in search results, and in some cases be completely excluded.
To test your website for mobile readiness we would suggest using the google mobile readiness tool - this gives a comprehensive analysis and suggestions for improving mobile compatability.
If you have any questions or concerns about the results of the test, please don't hesitate to contact us!
If the problems are not fixed, Google has stated that mobile unfriendly sites will be ‘ranked appropriately’. This is a nice way of saying that if your website is not mobile ready, you are likely to see a drop in rankings over the coming months. Unfortunately, this will ultimately lead to lost leads and sales.
MOBILE INTERNET SEARCHES INCREASE
There is a lot of evidence that consumers are using their mobile devices to search the Internet and that this trend is on the rise. For example, in June of 2014 comScore reported that 60% of all online traffic comes from smartphones and tablets (up from 50% the previous year).
They went further to say that 51% of all digital media time spent online came via mobile apps. Other research has predicted that local online searches will overtake desktop searches in 2015-16, and there is every reason to expect that this trend will occur worldwide over the next few years.
Google obviously thinks so and whilst this move by Google is alarming, you are not alone because research has also shown that around 74% of small businesses do not have a website that is mobile ready.
So the problem is that internet searchers are increasingly using their mobile devices to search the internet, which means that in reality, there is no real question whether or not you need a mobile friendly website. Google has decided to make businesses sit up and pay more attention to this fact.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
First, check out Google’s mobile friendly test which analyses your URL and lets you know if your website is mobile friendly. You can also access lots more information from Google about optimising your website for mobile devices.
So if your site is not mobile friendly, there are steps you can take to make your website display better on mobile devices, for example:
- Avoid software that is not commonly used on mobile devices, such as Flash.
- Use text that is readable without having to use a zoom feature.
- Make sure that your web pages display correctly on small mobile screens, so that users don’t have to scroll horizontally to read the text.
- Place links far enough apart so that they can be easily pressed.
In reality, you really need to head toward a responsive website, so if you are in the market for a website redesign, this is fundamental in the design. The steps above will help you somewhat, but trying to make webpages mobile friendly without a responsive design is like trying to make water run uphill. If you don’t want to redesign your current website and it is not mobile friendly, then consider getting a mobile website.
This is essentially a copy of your website (with a different domain) where your webpages are delivered optimised for mobile devices by the server, as opposed to being optimised by a responsive web design. There are arguments for and against mobile websites with the obvious issue being that you have two websites, which can dilute your authority and reduce organic traffic.
Regardless of potential Google penalties, in order to appeal to your customers you need a website that displays perfectly on all mobile devices; a friendly user experience is fundamental to both internet searchers and your customers. In fact, people expect to view your website clearly on their mobile devices and will vote with their feet if that doesn’t happen.
At MeMedia, we have been integrating responsive web design in all of our web development work and we have done so for years. So if you are concerned that your website is not mobile friendly, give us a call on 07 5518 8732 or complete our online enquiry form. We will be delighted to chat with you about solving your mobile-friendly problems.