19 Mar Mobilegeddon Is Coming on April 21: Is Your Site Ready?
As more and more consumers use tablets, phones and other mobile devices to search and shop online, having a mobile-friendly website becomes increasingly critical to providing a useful and satisfying digital experience to your customers.
This becomes even more crucial with Google’s recent announcement that it will expand its use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal on April 21.
This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide, and will have “a significant impact” on search results, according to a post on Google’s Webmaster Central blog. The implication is clear: failing to provide a mobile-friendly site will harm your natural search performance and have an immediate negative effect on your organic traffic numbers.
Optimizing your site for mobile can be done in several different ways. Google recognizes three different configurations for building mobile friendly sites that meet its requirements:
- Separate URLs: Detects the users’ devices and re-directs to an appropriate page optimized for that device
- Responsive design: Serves the same code on the same URL regardless of device, but renders the display according to screen size.
- Adaptive design (also known as dynamic serving): Uses the same URL for all devices, but generates a different version of HTML depending on the user’s browser.
For search indexing purposes, Google says it does not favor any particular mobile configuration–as long as the page and its assets are accessible to its web crawling bots. However, Placeable’s recommendation is to use adaptive design, which combines the customization capabilities and performance benefits of separate URLs with the flexibility, scalability and reduced maintenance requirements of responsive design.
Whichever approach you decide to take, the most important thing is that you provide an optimized mobile experience for website visitors. This was already an essential component of having an effective digital presence – but with Google’s announcement it now becomes a must-have from an SEO perspective, too. No brand can afford to provide an inadequate digital customer experience and lose ground on the search results page for something so simple and preventable.
Google has subsequently provided a few more details about this change and its future plans for handling mobile content. Notably, mobile friendliness will be determined page by page—not at the site level. So even if most of a brand’s pages are mobile friendly, it does not mean the site will pass the mobile friendliness check. In addition, Google revealed that it is already working on a dedicated mobile index. The SEO implications of this are unclear – but it means that desktop and mobile would eventually have separate search indexes.