In April of last year, Google rolled out an algorithm change that was designed to prioritise mobile-friendly pages in its mobile search results. Termed "mobilegeddon," this change caused many marketers, PR professionals and business owners to reconsider their website design.
If you're reconsidering too, but haven't yet made the moves necessary to accommodate the mobile browsers in your audience, do take action now. The longer you wait to go mobile, the greater you risk losing quality traffic. Here are some popular questions about mobile-friendly websites, answered.
What is a "mobile-friendly" website?
In 2015, mobile search activity surpassed
desktop search activity for the first time. Those who use mobile to consume content and perform other tasks expect an excellent mobile experience, and Google's algorithm change accommodates them by serving up mobile-friendly websites before those that aren't.
A mobile-friendly website is one that renders correctly on hand-held devices - smartphones, iPads, tablets and touchpads. A mobile-friendly website has been designed to load fast, facilitate easy reading on smaller screens, require minimal scrolling and offer intuitive navigation on a limited space menu.
Why should mobile be on my priority list in 2016?
Mobile use worldwide is only expected to increase, and as a result more and more brands will be making it a top priority. In 2016, if you want to stay competitive and stay relevant, you must have a mobile-friendly website - at minimum. In 2016, many will be moving well beyond the basics.
"A big trend for business owners in 2015 was to make your website mobile-friendly, as Google was requiring it to rank in their mobile searches back in April. The new trend for 2016 will be... having even faster page-load times, which Google is calling the project Accelerated Mobile Pages," according to
Michael Juba of EZSolution. Google recognises
the need for a quality mobile experience, and also wants web pages with rich content like video, animations, and graphics - all loading instantaneously, no matter what type of mobile device a user is on. If mobile isn't on your digital priority list for 2016, you can expect your competitors to gain the upper hand.
Implementing a mobile site: Responsive web design or separate URLs?
Responsive web design refers to a design setup that allows a website to render according to the screen size of whichever device it's being requested on. It is Google's recommended design pattern, serving the same HTML code on the same URL, regardless of device.
Implementing a mobile site using a "separate URLs" configuration is another option for going mobile. This design will let your website try to detect which device the site is being requested on, and then it will redirect to another site that's been made for mobile. You can make your site mobile with separate URLs by adding rel="canonical" and rel="alternate" tags to the HTML, which lets Google and the other bots understand that these two pages are two versions of the same page, and should be considered as one entity. This is considered best practice for this method.
How do I test if my website is mobile-friendly?
Google created a mobile-friendly test
that allows you to enter your site's URL in and see.
What is Google saying? Will any of this affect my ranking signals?
According to Moz
, Google has said that not having a mobile site will not affect your desktop ranking, but Moz suggests that "you should probably take some time soon to make sure that your site works - at least in a passable way - on mobile devices, just in case there are eventual desktop repercussions." When it comes to mobile search, however, it's said that the change will be more significant for ranking signals than the impact of the Panda and Penguin updates.
What do I need to know about content quality on mobile?
Mobile or not, content quality always matters for those looking to get found in the search results first. The key for mobile, however, is to understand that users are on their smartphones looking for quick, to-the-point content that gives them the information they need, fast. For example, if you're a physical store, your mobile site will need to offer it's address or a physical address in a readily available spot, perhaps even with a click-to-call button. Also, keep in mind quantity of graphics and text. While you don't need to retool your entire strategy, you do need to keep context in mind in 2016.