Google announced earlier this month that it would be releasing a new Google algorithm update aimed at making all sites on the web mobile-friendly. This update is set to go into effect on April 21. According to Marketing Land, consumers today spend 60% of their time on the internet on their mobile devices. And 3 out of 4 people will search on their smartphone for a business they are looking to work with (Google Partners). These statistics show the importance of having a mobile-friendly website and the reasoning behind Google’s big measures.
Google’s Mobile-Friendly Algorithm Update
Google uses a complex algorithm to rank websites in its search engine results. Some of the more common, well-known factors include use of keywords, length of content, and inbound links. In the past, people have speculated as to whether mobile-friendliness was a ranking factor. While it may have played a minor role, Google has officially announced its expansion as an important ranking factor. Google will be updating their algorithm on April 21 to put more emphasis on mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal (Social Media Today).
Making mobile-friendliness a stronger ranking signal means that mobile-friendly websites will be preferred over non-mobile-friendly sites in search results.
Some important things to know include (Search Engine Land):
- The update will roll out over about a week’s time
- It is an on or off algorithm, meaning you are either mobile-friendly or you aren’t
- It will be on a page-by-page basis
If you are wondering if your site will be affected by this algorithm, you will need to determine if your site is mobile-friendly or not. You can also monitor your analytics for a couple weeks following the update to see if there are any noticeable changes.
What is Mobile-Friendly?
The first step to determining if your site is mobile-friendly, is to understand what that term means. Mobile-friendly websites are sites that display optimally on mobile devices. That means that when a user pulls your site up on their smartphone, he or she does not have to pinch and zoom in order to read the content and click on links. Instead, a mobile-friendly site is easy to read and easy to use on a smartphone.
Mobile-Friendliness can be any of the following:
- Mobile Site: Like regular websites, mobile websites consist of browser-based HTML pages. It will look and act similar to your regular website only it will have a different domain (i.e. m.example.com)
- Responsive Design: Responsive design describes a website that dynamically resizes to fit the width of the device or browser that it is being displayed on. Responsive design uses a single code base that works across hundreds of devices.
- Adaptive Design: With adaptive web design, a website changes its layout based on specific thresholds.
How Do I Know if My Site is Mobile-Friendly?
There are a few ways to determine if your website is mobile-friendly. First of all, you can pull it up on a smartphone and see how it displays. If it is just a really tiny version of your website that requires you to pinch and zoom, then it is not mobile-friendly. You can actually tell if your website is responsive by pulling it up on a desktop and dragging the corner of your browser window to make it smaller. If your site is responsive, you will see your website re-size and re-format in front of your eyes.
Also, if you have a mobile site, it will have a mobile URL that you are probably aware of. Google recommends checking to see if your site is mobile-friendly by checking to see if you have the mobile-friendly label in the live mobile search results or using their handy Mobile-Friendly test.
How Can I Get a Mobile-Friendly Site?
If your site is not mobile friendly, you will want to consider taking it mobile either before the update goes into effect, or shortly after. Here are a few options for going mobile-friendly:
- Full Website Redesign: If you are planning on redesigning soon anyway, you might as well do the full redesign and go responsive.
- Update Your Current Site to Responsive: If you aren’t going to be ready for a site redesign in the next year, you should still alter your site to be responsive for the time being.
- Build a Mobile Site: While this is no longer the standard, it is still a viable option.
If you have any questions about the mobile-friendly Google algorithm update, don’t hesitate to reach out. Also, if you are interested in going responsive, contact Informatics today.