Starting tomorrow (21 April 2015) Google is implementing a new algorithm that will affect the way it ranks websites based on whether the site is fully optimised for mobile.
This change outranks both Panda and Penguin in terms of the impact it will have on how Google returns search queries.
When announcing the new update, Google said: “Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.”
To help businesses find out whether their sites are mobile-ready, Google has added a new feature to its Webmaster Tools which analyses the site and says whether it is mobile friendly or not. If not it also provides feedback on how to improve the site (below).
Those who find that their website is not optimised for mobile, may find this impacts on their ranking on mobile searches. So what should you do?
Well, ultimately the aim for any business should be to provide their customers with the best web experience whether they are viewing on desktop, tablet or mobile, as a good experience will only help the conversion from browser to buyer. So if a large percentage of your customer base access your website via a mobile device, or are likely to going forward, you should really consider upgrading as soon as you can.
What are your options?
1 Responsive Design
Starting with Google’s preferred option. Why? Because a responsive site means that it will adapt to whatever device it is being served on - mobile, tablet, desktop - rather than having two copies of the same site.
2 Mobile Website
This was one of the first options introduced for mobile optimisation and still works in respect of meeting Google’s new criteria. The basis of this approach is that the site detects a users’ device then redirects to the appropriate website. The downside is that you have two versions of your site that you have to maintain and Google has to crawl.
3 Dynamic Serving
Although this option still passes the Google test, it is seen as an error-prone technique so is not recommended if you want to give your customers the best experience. A dynamic serving approach keeps the same URL - as with responsive design - but the HTML actually changes. User-agents then detect what kind of device is being used and serves up the appropriate view.
What to do next?
First, check whether your site is optimised or not with the Google Tool here. If it is, fantastic!If not give us a call and we can advise on how we can bring your site up to Google standards, and help you avoid losing valuable traffic.