It isn’t unusual for Google to change the algorithm that ranks websites in its search results. They are making minor modifications regularly and there have been two largely publicized changes in recent years (Panda and Penguin). The thing that makes this most recent change so unusual is the fact that Google announced – in advance – exactly how websites will be affected by the change. This will will have long lasting effect on how businesses and individuals plan to create their web presence.
What is actually happening to Google Search Rankings?
Beginning April 21st, Google increased the importance of the mobile-friendliness criteria in ranking the results for searches performed on mobile devices. On mobile searches, websites that offer responsive experience will receive preference in the search results over those that don’t
For years, mobile traffic has been increasing and in 2014 it surpassed usage for personal computers. Google is taking steps to encourage website owners to improve the mobile experience for the public by imposing a consequence for those sites that are not mobile-friendly.
How will this affect my website ranking?
If your site is already mobile-friendly, it will likely improve your ranking if those of your competitors are not and you may move up in search results.
If your site is not mobile-friendly, it will likely penalize you and you will not rank as highly as you may have in the past (for searches done on a mobile device)
How can I tell if my website is mobile-friendly?
Google has provided a great tool that you can use to test your website. Using the Mobile-Friendly Test, you can enter a specific URL to your website and Google will deliver results that show you exactly how the Googlebots view your webpage and offer suggestions for improving your site.
If the webpage fails the test and is NOT mobile-friendly, Google tells you the reasons it failed and then offers guidance on what to do next.
If you have a web developer that you are already working with, contact them first and ask for help.
If you are managing your site on your own and using WordPress, there is a plugin called WPTouch that can help you immediately. In most cases, it will help your site pass the Google Mobile-Friendly Test and preserve your search ranking. This will certainly help you, but won’t solve all your problems. If you do not have a wordpress site, Google has other suggestions for solving the lack of responsiveness.
Do I need to invest in a mobile-friendly website?
The short answer is YES!
This isn’t just about Google and Search results. Mobile traffic has been steadily increasing and you should provide a quality experience for your audience no matter what device they choose to search the web.
If you are about to start a website project or are already working with a website designer on your project, make it absolutely clear that want a responsive website. This has been standard practice for me in recent years and should become standard practice for all web designers, but you still need to make your expectations clear.
There are several quality themes for just about any Content Management System that make achieving mobile-responsiveness much easier and they aren’t all Premium themes – some are free. Single page themes – the ones that scroll and don’t require clicking to access content are becoming very popular because they work equally well on all devices.
If you still have questions, post them below in the comments and let me know how I can help!
OR if you need help upgrading your site and making it mobile-friendly, just fill out this form to tell me more about your site and what you need and I’ll be in touch right away.