Google recently announced that on April 21 of this year they will start to label your site as “mobile friendly” (or not) and use the information to help determine where your site should rank in search.
This in itself is not particularly scary as your mobile accessibility has been a factor for some time now. What is scary is how significant this update might be. A Google Webmaster Trends team member was quoted recently as saying that this update will have more of an impact on search results than Panda or Penguin (Google’s two largest updates to date).
No Panic Required (most likely)!
There are a couple of things to help you rest a bit easier if your site is not optimized for mobile:
- You can fix your site after the deadline. With less than a month to go, there may not be time to properly update your site by the April 21st deadline. While you may take a short term hit, Google will recognize and reward you for your mobile upgrades when you do eventually fix your site.
- You NEED to do these upgrades anyhow! Traffic across all types of sites is rapidly growing on mobile platforms. If you’ve been ignoring this trend, consider this a nice kick in the ass to get going on these overdue upgrades!
- The impacts should only be felt in Mobile search, so if your site doesn’t yet get a ton of mobile search traffic you can rest easy that your desktop/laptop traffic should not be affected.
Why Do I Need to Worry About This?
We’ve seen mobile traffic increase between 100% and 500% over the last few years. Using data for sites PlusROI has been monitoring between 2012 and 2015, we’ve seen:
- Mobile traffic on small business sites go from 11% to 28% of all traffic
- Mobile traffic on B2B professional services sites grow from 6% to 12% of all traffic
- Mobile traffic on tourism-related sites grow from 13% to 33% of all traffic
- Mobile traffic on healthcare sites grow from 10% to 47% of all traffic.
Looking at these examples, if you’re the B2B professional services industry you can take some time to get your act together, whereas if you’re in healthcare you probably want to get started right now!
What Does It Mean to Be Mobile Friendly
To be mobile friendly, your site must be able to “respond” to the different screen sizes it is displayed on in order that it’s easily readable and navigable on desktops/laptops, tablets and phones. This is known as responsive design.
Options for becoming responsive include:
- Using a responsive theme on a platform like WordPress
- Coding your site so that it “responds” at different screen sizes. This option is not for the faint of heart as it requires a ton of coding and significant troubleshooting and testing on different devices, OS’s and browsers.
Resources for Mobile Friendly Sites
While the update is expected on April 21st, we would urge site owners to avoid knee jerk reactions. Consider this a great time to look at your overall strategy and put some well thought out changes and mobile upgrades in place on your site.
For instance, take a moment to think about how visitors will use your site on a mobile device and what your business goals are before you rush to “fix” your site. A responsive site that is frustrating to use may get more search traffic but could ultimately hurt your business.
Doing a good job of improving your site will create much more benefit for your business than doing a rush job trying to get things fixed by April 21st.
Getting A Professional Opinion
Want to know if your site has any obvious issues and what you need to do to become mobile friendly? Simply contact us and we’ll be glad to have a look at your site and let you know where you stand.
There’s no charge for this and we pride ourselves on providing informative responses to your queries.