Is Your Website Mobile Friendly?

As of April 21st, answering “yes” to this question will become much more important.

We’ve spoken about mobile going from corner case to cornerstone before – but why is this suddenly more important?

Because of a recent announcement from Google, regarding how websites are ranked in search for mobile devices. Google’s done a great job encouraging businesses and website owners to think fast and respond to user needs – and this announcement is just another sign that users need mobile access.

From the 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.

This kind of announcement causes uproar in the SEO community particularly because so many of Google’s announcements are intentionally vague. Learning that the search giant wants to “minimize the impact of webspam” does a very different job than a direct statement such as this one.

What does this mean for my search results?

On a desktop, very little. This change is directed at mobile devices, and searches that happen on those devices. Desktop rankings shouldn’t be affected – however, users who search from a mobile device will begin to see websites better tailored for that environment more often.

What can we do to prepare for this Mobile Friendly change?

There are a few steps you can take to see how your website is performing in mobile – and how important it may be to your online strategy.

  1. Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test – they created it for a reason, and this is exactly that reason. Pick your most important pages (landing pages, your home page, a timely blog post, etc) and input them individually into the test. This tool works on a page-by-page level, not for your entire domain, so it’s important to test these pages separately.
  2. View your website on a variety of devices. Again, do this with a variety of pages on your website. Desktops with larger monitors (19” and up), laptops (from 13” to 17” usually), tablets (7” to 12” screens), and smartphones (4.5” through 6” currently). Are you satisfied with how easy to use the website is? Can you read the text, and are the links clickable with your thumb as they are with a mouse?
  3. Consult your Analytics tool of choice to see how much traffic you currently get from mobile. The exact amount of traffic a given website sees from mobile devices varies – however, overall mobile traffic is on the rise, and many website administrators don’t make a point of finding out just how much this format means to their website’s overall visitor base. Our own website, for example, has seen a 40% increase in mobile traffic this month alone!

Walking through these steps should give you a sense of how your site’s being seen and found by mobile users. As mobile traffic grows, this space will become much more competitive, so being prepared – especially before April 21st when the changes begin – is one key to success.

If you’re still not convinced about the strength of mobile readiness, let us know – we’re here to help.