In a recent blog post Google have announced that they are going to be changing their algorithm to penalise websites that are not smartphone friendly. In the post Google say that smartphone users are a growing segment of internet traffic and that the aim is to make sure that they get to enjoy their internet experience as much as possible.
What Does “Mobile Friendly” Mean?
When we talk about a mobile friendly website we mean a website that presents the information that a user wants in an easy to use manner. Many websites owners are fooled when they look at their website on a mobile phone or tablet into thinking that it is mobile friendly because it looks exactly the same as it does on a desktop. This is not being mobile friendly this is just the smartphone’s browser rendering the page so that it fits within the confines of the browser.
When this happens the user experience is usually quite poor. Users will generally have to zoom in to read your content and your navigation links are often very difficult to click on as most people’s fingers tend to be a lot fatter than a cursor. Images need to load quickly due to mobile speeds being slower than traditional broadband. When users have a poor experience they generally leave a site quite quickly, never to return.
Responsive Web Design
Your website needs to have a “Responsive Web Design”. This means that your website will display differently depending upon the type of device that your site visitor is using. You will probably have different looks for desktop, table and mobile. The good news for site owners is that generally you will not need a completely new website, just amendments to your existing one and your web designers should be able to help you with this.
Responsive Websites and SEO
As always with Google they are trying to improve the standard of the web for users because Google believes that a better web is better for Google. The longer that people spend online the more of Google’s services people will use, be that their search engine, Gmail, Google+ etc and that will in turn lead to greater advertising revenues for Google.
With this post they are warning site owners in advance that change is coming. They are giving you the chance to make changes now or suffer the consequences later. In reality if you are a site owner -with a non-mobile friendly website then you may already be suffering the consequences already. Take a look at your analytics results and look for the number of users who are accessing your site via mobile and tablet. You can do this by looking at the operating system that your visitors are using. First look at the quantity of mobile users. I have noticed that most of the sites that I monitor for clients see a roughly 50/50 split between mobile and desktop users. Then look at the bounce rate for mobile against desktop visitors. If you see that mobile users have a higher bounce rate then you know you have a problem as it shows that mobile visitors are accessing your site and then leaving because they are not enjoying the user experience.
The internet changes quickly and the although we have seen every year for the last three years being heralded within the industry as being “the year of mobile” the truth is that it has been growing constantly and exponentially. If you are a website owner then you are going to need a responsive website design very soon or you may well find that all that hard work that you put into getting to the top of Google has been in vain as you fall down the rankings, search engine optimisation just took a very interesting detour.