Back on April 21st 2015 Google launched a mobile friendly algorithm, this started using mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal on mobile searches .Therefore if your website did not meet the mobile friendly guidelines you could not be found in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERP’s) for users searching on their mobile devices (smart phones & tablets) however if Google was confident the page provided great content for the query it could still show in the SERPs.
Google announced on 16th March, 2016 that beginning in May they will start rolling out an update to this algorithm, which will “Increase the effect of the [mobile friendly] ranking signal”.
As always Google have been very vague about the updates relating to their ranking signals however we do know if you do not have a mobile friendly responsive web site, and you did not feel the effect of the mobile-friendly algorithm update last year or maybe you do have a mobile site but it is not responsive, you will almost definitely notice an impact from the update starting May 2016.
Yes, you read that correctly, having a mobile site alone is not enough anymore to qualify for the mobile friendly update. It must be responsive.
I’ve not got a responsive site but Google says it is OK?
The Mobile-Friendly Test tool, is a great way to quickly check if a web page is mobile-friendly however it does not provide a full check of the mobile usability of your entire site, it only checks the URL entered (usually just the homepage). Mobile sites will have a friendly home page and quiet often some of the top level pages will also be mobile friendly but not any child pages or product pages, so upon using this tool and reading ‘Awesome! This page is mobile-friendly’ you think, great I don’t need to worry! Unfortunately this is not the case and your site may still have many Mobile Usability Issues, including touch elements too close together making it difficult to select the correct button with your finger, font size too small and content not sized to viewport making it difficult to read and interact with the site.
The best way to check the status of the entire site is to view the Mobile Usability Report in Google Search Console.
Generally the pages people are searching for are not the home page; they might be searching for a specific product or service, information on hotel rooms and facilities or your company contact details, if these pages are not mobile-friendly they will not show in the SERPs, and these are the pages we want to be found for, right?
So, what is a mobile responsive site? I hear you ask.
A responsive site design Serves the same HTML code on the same URL regardless of the users’ device but adjusts the layout of the page on a mobile device to create a better user experience, avoiding the user to have to zoom in to be able to read and interact with content, it also simplifies navigation menus, reduces image sizes to certain breaking points in accordance with the size and orientation of the screen, it switches between all these different variables instantly. A responsive site design is also future proof as it will already be optimised for any new device that comes out.
There are alternatives to a mobile site that require having separate sites and URL’s which have many negative effects including weakened SEO and every time you want to add new content, you have to do it to every version of your site, which is a lot more work!
Mobile responsive design is Spiderscopes & Google’s recommended design to offer the best user experience and achieve the best search rankings.
Call us on 01827 373 564 for more information and how we can help you with your website optimisation. Read more about Website Design for Mobile Phones