Google is the most important player in the online marketing industry, so when they decide to come out with an update, it is important to take notice. Their latest update was focused almost exclusively on mobile devices, but what really changed, and what do you need to know about it? Read on to find out…
WHAT WAS UPDATED?
The biggest change is how mobile-friendly sites will be prioritized in search rankings. In other words, if you have a site that is designed to be user friendly on a mobile device, that site will now supersede a site that is not mobile friendly. This will take time to roll out but it is happening.
The change affects the search results on all Google sites, globally. That means that no matter what language you choose to search in, Google is giving mobile-friendly sites amplified ranking power over sites that are not mobile friendly.
It is also important to note that this change applies to individual pages on a website, and not the entire website. In other words, if there is a specific page of a website that is popular, and that content is mobile-friendly while the rest of the website isn’t, only the mobile-friendly page will be taken into consideration by Google’s new ranking algorithm.
The biggest impact is going to be on the search ranking of sites that may have been popular choices in the past in mobile search results but are not mobile-friendly. Each page of your website needs to be optimized for mobile or it may lead to a significant decrease in mobile traffic from Google Search as your search rank declines. Major websites are paying close attention to mobile-friendly modifications, but some are slow to move. Meanwhile, sites that are built with mobile users in mind, can take advantage of this tardiness.
WHAT MAKES A SITE WORK WELL ON A MOBILE DEVICE?
The short answer is Responsive (or mobile-first) Design. The last few years have seen a massive increase in mobile web browsing. Over 30% of website page views are now conducted via a smart phone or other mobile device. Building or modifying a website so that it scales well on smaller screens is the key to making it mobile-friendly.
Another influencing factor is HTML5. The universal web language works on all mobile devices and web browsers, and is quickly becoming the language of choice for web developers. Meanwhile, programs like Microsoft Silverlight, which many mobile devices no longer support, are quickly fading away. In fact, the latest update to Google no longer recognizes anything designed in Microsoft Silverlight, which has forced a shift in the market of web development.
THE MOBILE FRIENDLY TEST
MOBILE FRIENDLY WEBSITE CONFIGURATION OPTIONS
There are 3 configurations for websites that are considered mobile-friendly by Google; Responsive Design being most highly favored. The reason for this is because in responsive design, a website has one URL and one site which is accessed by all devices. It “responds” according to the device that is being used, and the web page content adapts to fit each screen accordingly.
The second configuration is Dynamic Serving. Again, the website also only has one URL, but has different versions of the HTML. The server will determine which device is being used to access the site and then send the corresponding HTML version.
Lastly, a Mobile Website Configuration creates a second website which redirects users who are using a mobile device to it. This will work for Google’s update, but can cause a disruptive experience for users so it is not recommended.
The mobile revolution is upon us. With so much of the world utilizing Google, this update is easily their most significant of its time.
If your site isn’t ready for mobile searches, you may want to think about a redesign. Otherwise, you’re going to be left at the bottom of the search pile.