Google’s Algorithm Pushes Mobile-Friendly Websites as a Priority

Responsive Website DesignTechnology is constantly advancing, offering us more sophisticated smartphones with larger screens. As our phones evolve and offer new functionality and capabilities, it is unsurprising that we, as consumers, spend more time using them. More and more people are using their phones to search for local businesses and buy products while they are riding the bus or sitting in a coffee shop. This trend has generated a lot of chatter about the importance of making websites mobile-friendly, a term that simply means the website has been intentionally designed and optimized so mobile users can easily navigate the site.

Have you ever been to a website where you have to zoom in because the text is too small, then scroll side to side to be able to read a paragraph? Or where you’ve tried to click a link but you end up clicking the wrong one because they’re too close together. These websites would not be considered mobile-friendly, as they have not been optimized for mobile devices. These sites can be extremely frustrating for users.

There are a number of companies that are not making mobile optimization a priority, which is a fatal mistake for user experience and customer engagement. Although the number of searches conducted on mobile devices is continuing to increase, users’ tolerance for non-mobile friendly sites is decreasing.

Studies show that if your site is not mobile-friendly:

  • 50% of mobile users won’t return to your site
  • 48% of your mobile users will take it as a sign of not caring
  • 80 to 90% of mobile users will leave without interacting with your site
  • 57% of mobile users won’t recommend your company

New research continues to illustrate the detrimental effects of having a website that is not optimized for mobile users. To emphasize just how important it is, Google is launching a new algorithm on April 21, 2015 that will use mobile performance as a ranking factor. Google’s algorithms are the formulas that determine how to rank websites based on what users are searching for. Ranking factors are the elements used in the formula. If mobile-friendliness is going to be a ranking factor, it will either positively or negatively impact your rankings. So if your website does not provide a positive mobile user experience, expect your rankings on Google’s mobile search engine results pages (SERP) to decrease. But don’t stress; Millennium can help you figure out if your website is mobile compliant and make it mobile-friendly if it isn’t already.

It is important to remember that search engines provide a service. They, like any other company, must continually improve their service in order to gain market share and retain loyal users. Although Google currently dominates the search engine industry, Bing and Yahoo have been consistently gaining users, where Google has been losing market share.

Google Mobile Friendly TestThe search results Google serves to users are a product of the service they provide; this means that high-ranking websites that do not provide a positive user experience reflect poorly on Google. In order to provide higher quality results, Google continually tweaks and improves their algorithms. The official Google Webmaster Central Blog cites that a user should be presented with the most timely and relevant results, regardless of the device they are using to search. The bottom line is that just as you want to give your customers a mobile website that is easy to navigate and use, so do search engines like Google.

Google’s blog states that the new algorithm will have a “significant impact” on the mobile search results they serve. This means if your site is mobile-friendly, you may see an uptick in your rankings. If it isn’t, you are likely to see a drop in mobile traffic to your site. If you are unsure as to whether your site is optimized for mobile, you can use the Mobile-Friendly Test tool provided by Google.

Another way to check your mobile user experience is by logging in to Webmaster Tools and using the Mobile Usability Test and the Page Speed Insights. Google is encouraging everyone to check their site in order to properly assess whether the new mobile ranking factor will impact their site.

Google User Experience Test

Google has also sent out email warnings to the webmasters of sites that are not mobile-friendly:

Google Mobile Friendly Test

If your site passes with flying colors, congratulations! The new algorithm may help your mobile rankings. However, if your site does not pass the mobile-friendly test, you need to take action to fix the mobile usability issues as soon as possible. Don’t wait until your rankings and mobile traffic drops to make this a priority. The best option is to invest in making your site responsive. Websites that employ responsive design adjust to the screen size of the device on which the website is being viewed. That way, it doesn’t matter if you are looking at it on a phone with a small or large screen, tablet, or desktop computer; it will dynamically adjust to give your users a positive experience on any device.

If you need help testing your site for mobile-friendliness or if you would like to learn more about getting a responsive website, contact Millennium Marketing Solutions today!