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On April 21, 2015 Google will greatly increase the importance of your website’s mobile-device-friendliness in their ranking algorithm. And this announcement is making non-mobile friendly sites quake in their boots as the mobile-friendly deadline approaches.

This means that websites that have not implemented a mobile-friendly website design will receive lower search rankings in Google, permanently. Google’s team is pretty distinct and direct on this matter, and in a recent post on their webmasters discussion board, Google’s techs claim that this mobile-friendly deadline change to the algorithm will “possess a considerable effect on our search engine results.”

google-mobile-friendlySo why should I bother about making my website “mobile-friendly”?

If you care about retaining what traffic you are getting now, than you had better get moving. This change will affect mobile search in all languages around the world and will have a significant impact on your search results. Google says, the end result is to make it easier for search users to obtain relevant results. And, Google wants mobile users to receive the same high-quality search results that are optimized for their devices just as desktop users receive.

You might think this sounds unfair, as a business owner who depends on internet traffic but it’s time you brought your site up to today’s standards. Google has been hinting at this for years. And changes like this are meant to benefit the end-user, not hurt businesses. Over 25% of all internet searches are mobile based. This means 1 out of every 4 search users will never find your site without some kind of mobile-friendly structure in place.

Let’s look at the other side of the coin. As an end user, if you do search on a mobile device, isn’t it highly frustrating when you click on the search results and open a site that obviously is far from mobile friendly? I for one, will immediately leave and find a better site that caters to my mobile device!

However, webmasters like Gary Illyes outlined some major details of Google’s mobile-friendly deadline that should not be ignored by other webmasters. These include:

  • Responsive Design does not guarantee a better ranking website. While that sounds like the opposite of what’s been said in the past, responsive design is not the only solution to the mobile issue as not all responsive websites are optimized for the mobile user (even though they should be). So be careful and test before launching. Google is testing whether a website passes it’s Mobile-Friendly Test and being responsive is not a requirement for that to happen.
  • Googlebots should be allowed to crawl CSS and Javascript to pass the test for mobile friendliness.
  • How friendly a website is, is determined at the page level – not the entire site. Test all pages of your website thoroughly.
  • Tablets are not affected by this update.
  • Google is presently focusing on building a separate mobile index which further stresses the importance of making the necessary changes to your website now.

Since access to smartphones is really growing (faster than desktop access), companies would be wise to follow the example of web sites like moz.com and make their mobile sites friendly, even if the percentage of total traffic that could be lost at this point is less than 5%.

Tips for Passing Google’s Mobile-Friendly Deadline

#1: Start with the smaller screen.

By building your site to work for the smaller screen first you can address any potential mobile issues that would arise later in the construction process. Developing for mobile first, requires both you and your design team to work in a highly restricted environment to insure success.

#2: Simplify Layout

Since the viewable space on a mobile device is limited, your site design needs to be restricted and optimized. Make sure you use a template or original design that has a mobile friendly component. These have become easier to find or create recently. But if your site was built using HTML, you may need to work with a web designer for a website overhaul. The cost of this work would likely be worth it especially since you could be losing valuable Search Engine Placement from this Google update.

#3: Simplify navigation.

Whereas consumers can use a mouse to navigate a larger on the desktop page, the same is not true for mobile. Reduce the number of links and pages available on the mobile version of your site also helps clarify and streamline your website’s mobile design. Moving further links within the collapsed menu navigation, you can make all the necessary links available to consumers without reloading the page. Pay close attention to how your navigation functions. Many mobile websites bury pages in mobile dropdowns that are hard to work with.

#4: Make even shopping easy

It’s frustrating when a customer goes through the whole process and are ready to checkout only to abandon their order due to incompatibility or frustration trying to use your website with their mobile device. Make sure every aspect of your website is optimized, top to bottom, front to back and page to page. If you are not running a retail website but still rely on customer interaction with your site, make sure your forms are accessible and easy to use as well.

Preparing for the Future Updates

Does your site meet the test of Mobile-friendliness? Even if your site makes the grade today, there is no guarantee that it will continue to deal with future changes. Staying on top of trends in mobile search has to be a priority. Mobile designs may not be fully compatible with future browsers or mobile devices. Responsive sites, however, will likely be able to work with the new browsers and devices, so they are a worthwhile investment.

Keep up to date with all the Google search updates and adjust your online presence accordingly. Having a mobile-friendly site should not be news to anyone since smartphones and other mobile devices have been widely used for several years now. But since the consequences are not immediate, it’s time to get on board with mobile site design.

If you are not sure how your site stacks up, here is Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test Tool.

multi-colored-google-resultsThe use of multi-colored line separators

Another new feature Google rolled out in February of 2015, to further designate Mobile sites is the use of Multi-Colored Line separators. They have also added the words “Mobile-friendly” to any listings that have passed the Mobile-Friendly Test. It is unclear Though it has not yet been fully revealed because it is still been tested, the colors would alternate between the different colors in the logo of Google. Most would assume the colors may indicate how mobile friendly a website actually is, but that is mere speculation at this point in time.

Is your website and business prepared for the Google’s mobile-friendly deadline coming April 21st?

It’s not often that I push our website services in this blog. I try to let our website sell itself, and leave the blog as a useful resource to our followers and nothing more. However, I am concerned for many website owners who have no plan to adopt a mobile-friendly strategy. We specialize in building Responsive WordPress Websites. If you are interested in a free assessment of your website, click the button below.

Gerald D. Vinci

Gerald D. Vinci

Gerald D. Vinci is a Small Business Consultant and Strategic Branding Specialist. He calls Monterey, CA home and is a life-long musician who spends his free time writing, composing, and producing music. He has also co-authored two books, and is working on his own upcoming book titled, “Small Business Pricing Mastery – Creating effective pricing and defining value for today’s products and services.”

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