With the growth of mobile searches over the past few years, it has become increasingly important for Google to provide quality search results that are easy to navigate on any mobile device.
Earlier this year, Google officially announced it will put more emphasis on a website’s mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal starting today, April 21, 2015. Google noted specifically that this algorithm update will “affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results” and that it will be more significant than the Panda and Penguin updates.
Any site that isn’t mobile-friendly should expect a drop in both mobile traffic and the frequency with which it will show up for mobile search results. While this mobile algorithm update is a natural progression for Google, it has caused a lot of panic as companies have been scrambling to update their websites.
Why Mobile-Friendly Websites Matter
Smartphones and other mobile devices have become an indispensable part of everyday life for finding information on the Internet. According to Google, search engines are the most common starting point for finding information via mobile devices, with 61% of smartphone users searching on their device every day.
Mobile device use will continue to grow as technology expands beyond just smartphones and tablets to smart watches and other mobile devices that have yet to be invented. Ultimately, Google’s goal with its mobile update is to help this growing segment of users find “relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices” more easily.
While Google has emphasized that this mobile update won’t impact desktop search results, it is very important that any website be mobile friendly at this point, in order not to lose rankings and traffic. Even if mobile traffic isn’t a large portion of your site traffic currently, it will become more and more important as mobile search traffic continues to grow. At the very least, it is a good idea to make sure your website is passable on mobile, especially if Google decides that there will be desktop traffic repercussions in the future.
Is Your Website Mobile Friendly?
Unlike past Google algorithm updates, the new mobile update is more clearly defined. To help websites prepare, Google created a simple Mobile-Friendly Test that can be used to determine whether or not your site is mobile friendly. Google’s development team suggests entering each of your site’s pages individually into the Mobile-Friendly Test for the most accurate results.
Once you’ve run the test, contact your webmaster or site developer with your results to create a plan of action to address the new update requirements.
Also, if you have a Google Webmaster Tools account, you can also use the Mobile Usability Report to see a full list of mobile usability issues you’ll to address on your site.
Making Your Site Mobile Friendly
When it comes to getting your site ready for the mobile update, there are two options: a responsive website or a mobile-friendly website. Responsive sites change based on the screen sizes of the devices used to view them. No matter what type of device is used to view a responsive site, whether smartphone or tablet, the site will orient itself based on the screen size. This produces an optimal user experience.
A mobile-friendly website, on the other hand, will display the same across all devices. This type of mobile site may appear smaller on a smartphone, for example, but will still be functional. Since the mobile-friendly option doesn’t respond to screen size, it can be more difficult to navigate than a responsive site. While both are considered good for mobile, a responsive site is easier to use and will remain aesthetically intact across devices.
Google recommends using responsive web design for a variety of reasons, such as helping algorithms assign indexing properties and producing a better overall experience. Since responsive sites only need to be crawled once, rather than multiple times, Google is able to efficiently crawl a responsive site and keep its search results fresh. Furthermore, a responsive site will be the best option in the long run as it will remain easy to navigate even as new devices with various screen sizes are introduced.
Beyond simply developing a site that’s mobile friendly, don’t overlook best on-site practices. For example, even if your page is technically mobile friendly, your site rankings will still drop if there are elements that result in a bad on-site experience such as unplayable videos or images that fail to load properly.
Most importantly, don’t forget the mobile user. Test out key functions of your website, such as making a purchase or filling out a form, to ensure ease of use on a mobile device. Check out Google’s Mobile Playbook for helpful tips on adapting your business to a mobile experience and connecting with users.
Most Industrials Aren’t Mobile Friendly
When it comes to having a mobile-friendly presence, most industrial websites are not prepared for the new Google update. As digital marketing has quickly replaced many elements of traditional marketing, many B2Bs in the industrial sector have rapidly found themselves behind the times.
For those industrials and B2Bs who have been putting off launching a digital marketing program, or simply developing a modern website, now is the time to update their online presence and start actively competing in the online marketplace. Furthermore, the projected growth of mobile search traffic presents a unique opportunity for B2Bs to establish themselves with a mobile experience and high mobile search rankings before competitors do.
But having a mobile-friendly website isn’t just a matter of staying up to date with Google. It also makes good sense for connecting with customers. For example, many industrial buyers are often out in the field or on the road and start their research process via a mobile device like an iPad or smartphone. A top-ranking and easy-to-navigate mobile site could be an opportunity for a smaller industrial company to show up ahead of a larger industrial firm, intercepting a new customer in the process.
To learn more about how mobile-friendly websites can have a positive effect on industrial and other B2B businesses, please download our guide to responsive websites.
Now Is the Time to Go Mobile
The ultimate goal of the new Google update is to help mobile users navigate websites and easily access information. If you’re new to mobile sites or don’t know where to start with renovating your current site, Google has great resources and information for optimizing your site, including a list of common mistakes to avoid.
If you’ve been putting off updating your site or launching a new site, now is the time to take action. Mobile is here to stay, which makes it well worth it to invest time and money in developing a quality mobile experience.