Google first adapted its search algorithm to reflect web users’ move to mobile devices by adding “mobile-friendly” as a ranking signal on April 21, 2015.
Now [October 2016] Google has announced that it will move to a “mobile-first” index for search results in the coming months.
Update – A Google rep recently announced that Google will separate mobile and desktop search indexes. How this will roll out is unclear but we will make sure to update you as Google changes Search.
Once separated, mobile search will be Google’s primary index. Google’s goal for this change is to continue to improve user experience for smartphones.
What does this mean for you?
If you have a website that is not mobile-friendly, your site will not be displayed in Google’s primary index. You will lose visibility in search and ranking. Your poorer results in Google search could end up costing you new website visitors and money.
Google’s longstanding goal in search has been to deliver the most relevant and timely results to their searchers. And so it makes sense that as the world becomes increasingly more mobile that Google would adapt.
In their own words:
“As more people use mobile devices to access the internet, our algorithms have to adapt to these usage patterns.”
Why should you care?
If your website is not mobile-friendly (responsive) — your site will be “penalized” in search results. In other words, your ranking in search will be negatively impacted. This matters for businesses and individuals – particularly those who have used organic search as a marketing tactic.
As a website owner, you should also care about your user’s experience. You want to make it as easy as possible for them to access your content anywhere with any device. If your audience has trouble finding or accessing your content on a mobile device, you will lose them. And that’s why you want to have a mobile-friendly website.
[clickToTweet tweet=”If your audience has trouble finding or accessing your content on a mobile device, you will lose them.” quote=”If your audience has trouble finding or accessing your content on a mobile device, you will lose them.”]
What can you do?
- Start by reading Google’s Webmaster’s Mobile Guide.
- Use this Google tool to see if your website is mobile-friendly.
- If you have a Webmasters Tools account, test your site’s mobility issues mobile usability issues.
- Check with your web developer if you’re not sure whether you site is responsive. Send them to this post.
- Go Mobile-friendly: Sign up for our next WordPress Workshop. During the workshop, move your site to a Responsive Theme and learn to work with it.
Additional tips for making your website more mobile-friendly
(Hat tip to the Marketing over Coffee Podcast)
- Font size 16 px or more for readability on smaller screens. Users are less likely to need to zoom
- Clickable, touchable buttons sized 48px or more
- 32 px border or padding around the buttons for easier viewing
- No more flash on your site
Google has just upped the ante for website owners. Not only should you go mobile for your users, Google will penalize your site in search results if you don’t. Make sure you take action as soon as possible when they roll out the new algorithm.
Mobile matters now and will grow in importance — take a WordPress workshop with us.