Mobile Friendly Site Design More Important Than Ever

It has been years since internet access by mobile users exceeded that of desktop users. Years before that groundbreaking change in how users access the web, Google had been warning website designers and managers to be ready for mobile. Yet, despite hints from Google and other thought leaders in the online marketing industry, many people were caught off guard when it was announced that mobile-friendliness would have an effect on Google rankings back in April 2015. Even still, many have yet to optimize their website design to be mobile-friendly.

As the king of the search engine, Google has always taken it upon itself to make sure the service they offer uses an extremely complex search algorithm that takes a variety of factors into account. Keeping up with the many changes made to Google’s algorithms has been a daunting task for many website designers and online marketing professionals.

As the way people use search engines evolves, Google strives to remain ahead of the curve and make changes to their services based off existing customer needs and wants. Their main mission is to make their service as easy to use as possible while providing the best information available.

Previous algorithm changes, rewarded websites that made education and unique content a major focus. Years ago, Panda punished websites that used irrelevant and duplicate content, and even content that was shallow or had grammatical errors. Again, the purpose for Google was to ensure that, when a visitor clicked a link in Google search results, they found something useful.

With this announcement, Google moved from making “usefulness” to “usability” a part of the ranking factor.

Mobile-Friendliness and Google Rankings

Mobile-friendliness has long had a “significant impact” on organic search rankings on mobile devices. When Google crawls a site, each individual page is judged on whether it would provide a positive experience for a mobile user. Sites that are judged to be mobile-friendly will move up while the others will, necessarily, move down.

What is a Mobile-Friendly Site?

The simplest way to describe a mobile-friendly site is a site that looks good and works well on a variety of mobile devices, such as smart phones and tablets. Of course, there are a lot of nuances to that simple definition. Some of the factors that can affect mobile-friendliness are:

  • Display Sizing: Does the website adjust to correctly fit the display being used? If it looks great on an iPad but requires scrolling and magnifying on an iPhone, it’s not really user-friendly.
  • Appearance: Is the text legible on smaller displays? If navigation and content text is too small to read, it leads right back to the problem of scrolling and magnifying.
  • Usability: Almost all mobile devices now use touchscreens. If a website is designed around a keyboard-and-mouse setup, then things like drop-down navigation and forms are problematic.
  • Cross Platform: Websites that use a lot of proprietary language like Flash may not work well on certain mobile devices. To be truly mobile-friendly, web pages should load on the widest possible variety of devices.

How to Become Mobile Friendly

Over the years, there have been a number of approaches to making sites more accessible to mobile devices. Of course, some of these work better than others. An outdated approach is setting up a separate mobile website, and redirecting mobile traffic to those pages. Aside from running the risk of being viewed as duplicate content, this approach also doubles the workload of the website manager, and doesn’t offer end users a consistent experience.

A better approach to creating a mobile-friendly site is by using responsive site design. With responsive site design, mobile-friendly code is built into the website. That code automatically detects the device being used to access the site, then optimizes the site for that device. Things like screen size, text size, and user controls are all adjusted to best suit the end user’s device.

Another aspect of mobile-friendly design is including long-tail question keywords as a part of your search engine optimization marketing. With the rise in voice commands for mobile devices, more and more users are asking their smart phones questions that start with “where is the nearest” or “what is”.

To learn more about how to make your website mobile-friendly, check out our Essential Guide to B2B Mobile Marketing.

Advantages of Responsive Site Design

The most obvious advantage is that responsive site design will be perceived as mobile-friendly for the purposes of Google rankings. Google wants mobile-friendly sites to begin with: using responsive site design will provide customers and prospects who visit your website with a positive, consistent experience.

For more tips on mobile marketing, see our 3 Tips to Make Sure Your B2B Website is Mobile and User-friendly blog post.

Dan Beadle
About the author

I love the fact that SVM ties both marketing services and statistics together. These are two areas I am truly passionate about and allow us to provide our clients with amazing results.

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