You probably already know that having a mobile-friendly website can increase user experience, but did you know that it can also help improve your SEO ranking? Now more than ever, customers are accessing websites on their mobile devices. Internet usage on mobile devices even exceeded PC usage in 2014, so it only makes sense to accommodate this growing group of users. Google happens to agree. The company made an announcement stating “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 results that are optimized for their devices.” What does this change mean for your business? It means that if you want to be ranked highly on Google, you can no longer afford to have a website that isn’t mobile-friendly. Making it easier for your site’s visitors to get relevant results, optimized for their device should be a top priority, and mobile-friendliness can no longer be ignored for your website’s SEO. If your site isn’t configured for smartphone or tablet use, or if you don’t have a mobile-friendly option for consumers, you may see a drop in your SEO ranking. According to Google, a website must include the following features to be classified as “mobile-friendly” by Googlebot:
- It avoids software that is not common on mobile devices, like Flash
- Uses text that is readable without zooming
- Sizes content to the screen so users don’t have to scroll horizontally or zoom
- Places links far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily tapped
Google acknowledges three different types of mobile websites: responsive web design, dynamic serving, and web URLs. Each of these is different, but they all strive to improve the user experience for mobile visitors. Responsive web design displays the same HTML code no matter the browser or device, but displays the content optimally based on the device screen size. Dynamic serving websites will show a different version of the site, with different HTML based on what the server knows about the user’s browser, but will keep the same URL structure. Finally, having separate URLs means having one for mobile and one for desktop browsers. This method detects when a user visits from a mobile device and will direct that user to the mobile-specific website. Having any of these types of mobile website will ensure that your SEO is not negatively impacted. While this update to the search algorithm doesn’t take effect until April 21, Google has already starting indicating whether a site is mobile-friendly or not, which could be impacting your mobile click-through rate and overall SEO. Websites without a good mobile experience will not only experience a drop in their SEO ranking, but they will soon find themselves losing out to competitors. The bottom line? If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, you’re missing out on some serious SEO opportunities; Google is looking out for mobile users, and your company should be too. Going forward, we should all be thinking about mobile first as a way to better reach our target audiences and improve our SEO ranking.