For the first time ever, Google is announcing beforehand a major change in their algorithm and specifically what is going to change. In the past, they didn’t even announce it let alone say what was changing. That is how much impact this change in their algorithm is going to have on their search results.
Google announced starting April 21st that for searches done on mobile devices (which it is estimated to be about 50% of all searches), the status of your website as “mobile-friendly” will have an impact on your website’s placement in the search results.
What does it mean to be “mobile-friendly”?
Look at your site on a mobile phone and see how easy it is to use. Without having to zoom in, can you read the text? Do you have to scroll horizontally to see images or other parts of the page? Essentially to be mobile-friendly, the experience should feel natural and be easy for users. Google has actually provided an online tool for website owners to help determine if their website is mobile-friendly.
Why is mobile-friendly so important?
By making this update to their algorithm Google is improving their product. In the last few years there has been a surge in online traffic via mobile devices. Google determines the quality of their product (search results) by how easily you can find what you are looking for. If you are on a mobile device and the first 5 websites in the search results are not mobile-friendly, then it will be more difficult for you to find the information you want. So if there is another website with equally quality content but functions and displays well on a mobile device, it is to the user’s benefit (and thus Google’s benefit) that the other website is listed instead.
What are we doing about this?
A while back we started offering to make client sites “responsive” as an option. Most chose to go with it because we helped them understand the importance and how it would only grow more important over time which it has. Some clients opted out because of budget reasons or their site was one that didn’t get much mobile traffic and that made sense. However, about a year ago we decided to simply include the mobile-friendly (or “responsive”) version of the site for every client because we knew it was that important. We are also working with our older clients to update their sites to become mobile-friendly.