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Mobile Friendly Site Design More Important Than Ever

It has been more than a year since internet access by mobile users exceeded that of desktop users. Years before that groundbreaking change in how users now access the web, Google had been warning website designers and managers to be ready for mobile. Yet, despite hints from Google and other thought leaders in the online marketing industry, many people were caught off guard when it was announced last month that mobile friendliness will have an effect on Google rankings starting April 21, 2015.

As the king of the search engine, Google has always taken it upon itself to make sure the service they offer uses an extremely complex search algorithm that takes a variety of factors into account. Keeping up with the many changes made to Google’s algorithms has been a daunting task for many website designers and online marketing professionals.

As the way people use search engines evolves, Google strives to remain ahead of the curve and make changes to their services based off existing customer needs and wants. Their main mission is to make their service as easy to use as possible while providing the best information available.

Previous algorithm changes, like the dreaded Panda upgrade for many companies, rewarded websites that made education and unique content a major focus. Panda punished websites that used irrelevant and duplicate content, and even content that was shallow or had grammatical errors. Again, the purpose for Google was to ensure that, when a visitor clicked a link in Google search results, they found something useful.

With this latest announcement, Google has moved from making “usefulness” to “usability” a part of the ranking factor.

Mobile Friendliness and Google Rankings

Google has announced that mobile friendliness will have a “significant impact” on organic search rankings on mobile devices. When Google crawls a site, each individual page will be judged on whether it would provide a positive experience for a mobile user. Sites that are judged to be mobile friendly will move up while the others will, necessarily, move down.

What is a Mobile Friendly Site?

The simplest way to describe a mobile friendly site is a site that looks good and works well on a variety of mobile devices. Of course, there are a lot of nuances to that simple definition. Some of the factors that can affect mobile friendliness are:

  • Display Sizing: Does the website adjust to correctly fit the display being used? If it looks great on an iPad but requires scrolling and magnifying on an iPhone, it’s not really user friendly.
  • Appearance: Is the text legible on smaller displays? If navigation and content text is too small to read, it leads right back to the problem of scrolling and magnifying.
  • Usability: Most mobile devices now use touchscreens. If a website is designed around a keyboard-and-mouse setup, then things like drop-down navigation and forms can become problematic.
  • Cross Platform: Websites that use a lot of proprietary language like Flash may not work well on certain mobile devices. To be truly mobile friendly, web pages should load on the widest possible variety of devices.

How to Become Mobile Friendly

Over the years, there have been a number of approaches to making sites more accessible to mobile devices. Of course, some of these work better than others. A somewhat outdated approach is setting up a separate mobile website, and redirecting mobile traffic to those pages. Aside from running the risk of being viewed as duplicate content, this approach also doubles the workload of the website manager, and doesn’t offer end users a consistent experience.

A better approach to creating a mobile friendly site is by using responsive site design. With responsive site design, mobile friendly code is built into the website. That code automatically detects the device being used to access the site, then optimizes the site for that device. Things like screen size, text size, and user controls are all adjusted to best suit the end user’s device.

Advantages of Responsive Site Design

The most obvious advantage is that responsive site design will be perceived as mobile friendly for the purposes of Google rankings. Behind the obvious are the reasons why Google wants mobile friendly sites to begin with: using responsive site design will provide customers and prospects who visit your website with a positive, consistent experience.

If Google making mobile friendliness a ranking factor is not enough of a concern, read about some of the other reason’s your b2b company needs to start thinking about making your website responsive today.

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Dan Beadle

I love the fact that SVM ties both marketing services and statistics together. These are two areas I am truly passionate about and allow us to provide our clients with amazing results. Full bio

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