For those not in the online marketing world this might not seem like a big deal. For those of us in it, it surely is. Though most of us already have mobile friendly sites, the business owners on the web are who will see a shake-up, and the issue will be the rush to convert their sites (or add a new one) before the deadline passes.
For background info, Google constantly rolls out updates updates to its ranking algorithm to better filter results, or penalize those who have found a loophole and are exploiting it. It’s a never ending cycle; updates come, webmasters react, trends are discovered, become popular, and then the next update comes and the process repeats itself. You can read about some updates here.
This latest one is a bit different though, in that they are announcing it ahead of time and that a lot of the damage will be sites that just don’t know about it, ie. sites that have done nothing wrong. Which is probably why it’s being warned about in the first place. But it has been a long time coming. Anyone who tracks analytics has seen mobile visitors outnumber traditional desktop computer visitors for a few years now, and Google’s own data shows that mobile searches are now the biggest source of search queries. That seems obvious, because unless you work on a computer your phone most likely functions as your computer (at least for browsing). The problem is a lot of sites only have traditional desktop-friendly versions, and this is not great for the mobile browsing experience. It’s this poor user experience that has prompted Google to use mobile friendliness as a ranking factor, so as of April 21, sites that aren’t mobile friendly will see a drop in rankings.
For people in the web-design/online marketing world this is a great opportunity, as many searched for competitive terms still have traditional websites ranked on the first page, and if those webmasters want to keep their rankings they will have to comply by April 21. To test if your site is mobile friendly in Google’s eye, simply submit it’s URL here: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/
Here is the same site. The current version is on the left; a mobile verison is on the right. Contact details have been hidden.
If it passes great, but if not, what’s the next step? There are 2 ways to convert a site to make it mobile friendly. The first is to make it fully responsive. The second is to have a mobile version of the site. Personal preference will vary, but for a quick conversion I opt for the latter for a few reasons;
1. They are faster make. A mobile version takes elements of the original site and makes a new mobile version. This is faster than trying to recreate a site on a responsive platform.
2. They have known mobile conversion factors. Functions like “click to call” or “click to locate” generally don’t come with responsive sites, but they are almost always present and prominent on mobile version sties. It’s long been known that the more people have to look around the more likely they are to leave, and just making a site responsive doesn’t make it more likely to convert.
We are currently offering a special to get a mobile site up and running for business owners who are ready to tackle this. Please call us at (705)315-0305 for your site before it’s too late!