If you run a website, then you’ve likely heard the news that, starting on April 21, Google will start using mobile effectiveness as a ranking signal. For Internet users who search for content using their smartphones, this means that websites optimized for mobile will rise to the top. If you have been running a website that does not have a mobile equivalent, then now is the time to look into adding a version that conforms to Google’s new algorithms. Otherwise, your site may be penalized with a lower ranking on SERPs.
Why Does Mobile Matter?
The story of mobile is one that keeps getting told over and over again, and each time it only becomes more amazing. Since the introduction of the Blackberry and iPhone which ushered us into the modern era of mobile phones, usage has been skyrocketing. In fact, global users of mobile devices, such as tablets, surpassed smartphones in 2014, which means the further into the future we go, the higher odds that someone visiting your website is on a mobile device.
What’s more important than mobile adoption is mobile user behavior, which can be tracked in both search and social media. According to SmartInsights, a Google survey of 950 mobile users showed that search is the most common starting point for mobile research, with 48% of respondents saying they start there, as opposed to 33% on branded websites and 26% on mobile apps. With regards to social media, a Nielsen survey showed that 47% of smartphone owners visit social media sites from their phones, and social is a big driver of website traffic.
Since search and social are some of the most popular ways that content is found today in an increasingly noisy Internet, a mobile site is absolutely necessary for driving traffic and engagement.
What Makes a Site Mobile-Friendly?
It’s not enough that your site displays on your mobile phone; there are other key aspects to consider. Here are some basics to help make your website mobile-friendly:
- Avoid software that does not work on phones, like Adobe Flash.
- Use text that can be easily read without zooming in.
- Automatically size content so that everything can fit on the screen of the device that is being used.
- Stylistically, ensure that links and buttons are large enough and far enough apart to be easily clicked with a finger – a simplified design works best here.
Tactically, you can make your website more mobile in one of two ways. If you’re using a content management system like Joomla or WordPress, make sure the theme you are using has mobile capabilities. Often times, this is known as a “responsive” theme, which saves you time from having to build two sites at once. If you’ve decided to take the long way around and hand code your website from scratch, then there are many design websites that can walk you through what elements you can change in order to be the most effective. We also make it easy with our homegrown website builder, which you can find here and will walk you through the steps of taking your website mobile.
Finally, Where does Google Come In?
Finally, you might be wondering how to make sure Google can be happy with what you’ve done with your website to make it more mobile-friendly. They have created a mobile-friendliness test tool that will allow you to enter in your website’s URL and ensure that your website will be ready for the future ahead.
There are some big changes coming to how websites will be viewed in the coming months with their compatibility to mobile devices. If you aren’t ready, it’s not too late to read up and figure out what steps you need to take to make sure you are not left behind. Happy website building!