Changes to Google algorithm to favour mobile-friendly pages

By Popdot's Sara Bosch

There is no way back: Google is boosting the ranking of mobile-friendly pages on mobile search results worldwide. Nowadays most people search for local information on their smartphones. Some people never had a desktop or they won’t replace their existing desktop. And funnily enough, a huge percentage of mobile searches happen at home or at work, places where desktop computers are likely to be around.

With the new Google algorithm, non mobile-friendly pages won’t easily appear in searches, giving priority to high-quality and relevant results. This update affects search results in all languages globally and applies to individual pages, not entire websites.

This proves once more that time is precious, especially on mobile devices, making mobile critical to your business. Mobile isn’t a trend, nor even the future; it’s the present. So get people to what they came for as soon as you can by rethinking the way you communicate with your audience.

But what is a mobile-friendly page?

A mobile-friendly page is basically a page that is legible and immediately usable on mobile devices. The users can easily read it and quickly find the necessary information with simple navigation options.

A non mobile-friendly version requires the user to tap or zoom in order to read the content. Tap targets are not spaced appropriately and there is unplayable content or horizontal scrolling. These unpleasant navigation experiences frustrate users and ultimately make them abandon the site without the information they were looking for.

How can I make my site mobile-friendly?

Google recognises three different configurations for building mobile sites, namely responsive web design, dynamic serving and separate URLs. It’s important to note that responsive design is Google’s recommended design pattern. Without getting too ‘techy’, this configuration serves the same HTML code on the same URL regardless of the users’ device (desktop, tablet, mobile, non-visual browser), but can render the display differently (i.e., “respond”) based on the screen size.

One of the main benefits of responsive web design is that you’ll only need to maintain one version of your site for both desktop and mobile (i.e., you won’t need to maintain the desktop site at www.example.com and the mobile version at m.example.com).

As a consequence, these days we look to mobile first as our primary approach to responsive design. This simply means that web designers design for smaller screens first, then add more features and content for bigger and bigger screens. Putting this into action, however, is complicated. An appropriate mobile design is consistent for all devices and focuses on delivering what's essential, which is hard when squeezing features and content onto a small screen.

Thinking mobile requires a different approach to the web development process, and this can be difficult and tricky at the beginning. The good news is that the benefits are clear. If you understand the importance of mobile, you have to make tough decisions first, and the rest of your process will be easier.

Is your business ready?

Run your site through the mobile-friendly test at www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly and contact us for further personalised information. At Popdot, we offer a variety of solutions to assist businesses of all sizes in the transition to responsive site design.