Google is Going Mobile, Is Your Website Ready?

Google is always changing, but this is a big one!

As a result of the continued growth of mobile use, Google has announced that starting on April 21st it will change the way search results are shown to mobile users. Google’s new algorithms will favor websites that are mobile friendly in its search results for mobile users. Sites that are not ‘mobile friendly’ may see a significant drop in their rankings. If your website is not mobile friendly yet, this post will help you get ready for this big change in the way Google shows search results.Google's changes favor mobile friendly websites

Why Google Loves Mobile So Much

Mobile use of the internet continues to grow dramatically, in fact, one recent YouTube statistic I read stated that half of YouTube’s video views now occur on mobile devices. That’s a lot! Google’s goal is to serve that growing mobile audience search results heavily weighted in favor of websites that are optimized for mobile use.

Google is learning that mobile users prefer sites that are easy to use on their devices. I’m sure you can relate to this. It can be frustrating to visit some websites on your mobile device. To find the information you want, you have to do a lot of pinching and zooming and swiping around the screen. For many people it is just not worth the effort. It is easier to click the back button and move onto the next site.

Google’s solution is to change the way it shows search results to mobile users.

This is from the Google Webmaster 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.”

The changes have already begun. Google recently began including a small tag in mobile search results identifying sites as ‘mobile friendly’. See the picture below.

Screenshot from my phone, showing 'mobile friendly' tags on Google search results.

Screenshot from my phone, showing ‘mobile friendly’ tags on Google search results.

The above screenshot is a search for the term “formal gowns” I did on my phone. You can see the ‘mobile-friendly’ tags that show up in some listings. This tag lets people know ahead of time – before they click your link – whether or not your site is mobile friendly. This is a game changer.

Imagine you are on your phone searching for something on Google, and of the top two results that you get, one is marked ‘mobile friendly’, and the other is not. Which would you click on first?

Right, most people would click the mobile friendly option first. So you can see the value of making sure your site is mobile friendly.

This is just the first step however. When Google implements their full changes on April 21st many websites that are not mobile friendly will see drastic drops in their Google rankings.

How to Make Your Website Mobile Friendly

You only have to do one thing to prepare for these changes:

Make sure your website is mobile friendly!

What does this mean exactly?

Well, basically speaking it means that when a person visits your site on a mobile device (smart phone), they are shown a version of your site that is designed to display correctly on those devices.  You shouldn’t have to pinch and zoom in order to navigate the site.

There are several ways to ensure your site is mobile friendly, depending on how your site is set up.

  • If you manage your own site, and you are using WordPress, optimizing your site for mobile can be pretty simple. Most newer WordPress themes include options for mobile responsiveness. You might have to look in your settings to turn it on and make adjustments.
  • If you are using an older WordPress theme that doesn’t support mobile responsiveness, it may be time to think about upgrading to a better theme, because mobile use is only going to continue to rise.
  • Another way to get a mobile friendly WordPress site is to use a plug-in called JetPack. This WordPress plug-in will create a basic version of your site that is mobile friendly.

If you have a webmaster or someone else managing your website for you, be sure to ask them about any changes you might need to make to your site.

Being Mobile-Friendly Isn’t Just About Google

Whether you rely on traffic from Google or not, the growing number of users accessing your website and your information on mobile devices is only going to keep increasing as more and more people turn to their smart phones and other devices. You need your website to look good and be easy to use for those mobile visitors.

Making sure you have a mobile friendly website will help your overall online success, because I’m sure Google’s changes are just the start. I think you’ll see more and more of the big search engines, including Facebook and Twitter, start to filter their own search results in favor of mobile friendly websites.

Your goal, no matter what happens with technology or the web, is to get your information in front of your ideal prospects in an easy to use manner – regardless of how they choose to access it. Right now, the people are choosing mobile devices, so smart website owners are responding to that choice.

Is your website mobile friendly?