We are now just a few weeks away from one of the biggest updates that we have seen from Google for many years, which has the potential to be even more powerful than both Penguin and Panda, as if your website is not considered mobile friendly, then your rankings are probably about to change.
We have known for some time that Google expects your website to work across a range of devices, which is why they first started to label sites “mobile friendly” in the mobile search results if they worked ok, and then they went one step further to announce that if your website does not work on mobile devices, the chances of you ranking above sites that do are going to be low to say the least. The indictors are clear, that in the long run Google expects / wants / demands 100% of websites to be mobile friendly and work across the range of devices people now use to access the Internet.
About The Google Update
On the Google Webmasters Blog, this statement was made back in February.
“Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.”
Very rarely does Google release such a signal of intent, with the significant word really hammering home that these changes are not just going to have a minor effect on non-mobile friendly sites, but that they will have a major effect, meaning that if your site does not work on mobile phones then you are going to start losing your rankings on the mobile search results, and therefore you are likely to lose customers and visitors from these devices.
Will this have an ongoing link to normal results as well? At the moment, there is no answer either way, but I think long term if your site is not mobile friendly then it is not just your rankings on a mobile phone that you need to worry about, it could be the results across the board, as search is showing all of the intentions of starting to become “one”. Either way, Google has laid their cards firmly on the table and have released a powerful statement that if your site is not responsive or fails to work on a smart phone, you are going to have issues going forward.
Why It Matters For SEO
At the end of the day, search engine optimisation, or SEO, is about getting more visitors to your website, else there would be little point in bothering to worry about it. The better your rankings are, in theory, the more traffic you get and if you are being found for the right search terms, you shouldthen start to get more business. The theory is obvious, the methods are sometimes dubious, but the end result is to increase your online visibility and start to get more sales, enquiries and customers for your business.
A massive percentage of traffic comes from mobile devices these daysand we expect mobile traffic to overtake laptop and desktop traffic in the very near future. All of this comes together to show that if your website is not mobile friendly (or is not a responsive web design) and therefore does not rank in Google, then you are going to be missing out on a massive chunk of your potential visitors. If you are wondering where these visitors will go, the simple answer is probably onto your competitors, who do have a site that works on a mobile and therefore will rank above you.
What Do You Need To Do?
Obviously, you need to make sure your website works on a mobile phone.
Google have released their Mobile Friendly testing tool, which allows you to enter your URL and you will then find out if Google thinks your site is ok or not ok on a mobile phone, and then offer the relevant advice to try and allow you to correct it.
There are things that you can do outside of a new design that is responsive, but in my opinion, these are just small fixes and if you are serious about your long term online marketing and SEO, then you should tackle the idea of a new responsive web design head on and go and speak to a local web design company that can make this happen for you. You can do all the patches and fixes in the world, but for the long haul, you are better off just getting things sorted now and going responsive, as you then know you are sorted going forward and all of your users are going to enjoy a far better experience when on your website.
Thanks to Ian Spencer from IS Digital Marketing for providing us with this blog post, answer the major question at the moment about Googles mobile update, coming in April.