Last week Google rolled out its new algorithm—nicknamed ‘mobilegeddon’ by some—that will be taking a site’s mobile-friendliness into account in its rankings. This is different than what Google did last year when it began labeling mobile-friendly sites in its search results. Now being optimized for mobile traffic will actually affect placement in Google’s search results—at least for traffic coming from mobile devices.
Why Mobile Optimization Matters
Google gives the following stats as one of the reasons why it’s important to optimize for a mobile audience:
“In the USA, 94% of people with smartphones search for local information on their phones. Interestingly, 77% of mobile searches occur at home or at work, places where desktop computers are likely to be present.” (source)
In addition to the fact that so many people are accessing information from their mobile device, the reality that Google now is openly adjusting its rankings based on mobile-friendliness is a huge incentive to optimize your website with mobile in mind.
So what are your next steps in seeing how this change may affect you?
See Where You Stand on Mobile-Friendliness. First, you can use some online tools to determine how ‘mobile-friendly’ your website is. Some basic tools you can use include:
You can run the ‘Mobile-Friendly’ test by Google to see if they think your site is mobile-friendly. This information is important to know, because ultimately Google will be the one deciding where to rank your site in their results.
If you have Google Webmaster Tools set up for your site, you can use the Mobile Usability report located there.
Make Adjustments As Necessary. After seeing where you stand, you can make adjustments as necessary.
When it comes to developing for mobile, one important decision to make is whether your desktop and mobile sites will use the same URL and codebase, or whether they will be totally different sites. Although there are pros and cons for both, the strategy that Google recommends is to utilize a methodology called responsive web design (RWD), where you set up your web page to change its layout based on the screen size and capacities of the device viewing it—the page ‘responds’ to the screen it’s being viewed on. This allows your site to have a single codebase and URL structure, as well as a consistent theme and design across all devices. If a site isn’t already responsive, taking steps to make it so is a good start.
Another huge metric to look at is how fast your site loads, especially on a mobile device. One helpful tool that can help point out strengths of your current site is Google’s PageSpeed Insights. This test will show you your relative speed score for both mobile and desktop uses, as well as specific tips for improving your score.
Regardless of the short-term effects of ‘mobilegeddon,’ it’s still a good idea to be optimizing your site for mobile traffic—the percentage of visitors coming from mobile devices is growing, and shows no signs of diminishing in the foreseeable future. By utilizing the tools mentioned above, you should be able to get a good idea of where you currently stand, as well as some specific tips to improve your mobile-friendliness.