Why You MUST Have a Mobile-Friendly Website (now according to Google)
From a usability perspective, having a mobile-friendly website is a no-brainer. Users are increasingly visiting your website from a variety of different smartphones, tablets, and other devices—and it only makes sense to accommodate to this ever-growing group of visitors.
Erik Qualman—digital leadership speaker, entrepreneur, and author—recently predicted that 2015 is the year that companies will start to think mobile-first. He noted that with the gradual increase of traffic coming to websites from mobile devices, companies are going to have to start thinking about mobility first as a way to better reach their target audience(s).
We couldn’t agree more. And based on a recent announcement from Google, having a mobile-friendly website will soon be even more critical in today’s digital marketing landscape.
According to a recent post published on the Google Webmaster Central Blog, “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.”
In other words: if you want to be ranked highly on Google, you can no longer afford to have a website that isn’t mobile-friendly.
What is a Mobile-Friendly Website Anyway?
Google acknowledges three different types of mobile websites: responsive web design, dynamic serving, and separate URLs. Each of these different approaches affects your site’s URL structure and HTML differently, but they all strive to achieve an optimal user-experience for mobile visitors.
Google doesn’t favor one format over another, as long as the pages and assets are accessible to their Googlebots. Google does, however, recommend taking a responsive web design approach to your website (Backbone suggests responsive websites as well).
Here’s some more information about each type:
Responsive Web Design
This approach will display the same HTML code across all browsers and devices. With a responsive website, the same content is displayed differently—and in an optimal layout—depending on the screen/window size.
Based on what the server knows about a user’s browser, this option will show a different version of the site (with different HTML) to the visitor while keeping the same URL structure.
Lastly, having separate URLs means having one for mobile and one for desktop browsers. This method detects when a user visits from a mobile device and will direct that user to the mobile-specific website.
How do I know if my Website is Mobile-Friendly?
Not sure where your website stands? Luckily, Google has provided a new feature in Webmaster Tools that measures your website’s mobile usability.
Added earlier in the year, you can access the “Mobile Usability” function in Webmaster Tools under Search Traffic > Mobile Usability. This will analyze your site and provide a detailed look at any issues, what pages these issues are found on, and the option to learn more and get pointers on how to resolve these problems.
If you don’t have access to your Google Webmaster Tools (and if you don’t, let us know and we can help you set one up), Google has provided a basic Mobile-Friendly Test that tests and analyzes your website for how well it displays on smartphones and tablets.
If your site isn’t deemed mobile-friendly by this test, it’ll tell you some reasons why and suggestions for improvement. While this method isn’t as in-depth as the version found in Google Webmaster Tools, it can serve as a quick peek into the mobile-friendliness of your site.
If you’re nervous after reading this article and assessing your own B2B website, don’t worry, we’re here to help. To start fixing your website mobility issues, contact our team today for an assessment.