Earlier this year, Google announced updates to their SEO ranking algorithm that will have a negative impact on mobile searches for your web site if it is not “mobile-friendly”. The update improves rankings for sites that provide a mobile-friendly experience to searchers using mobile devices, and, by association, penalizes sites that don’t.
Note: this mobile-friendly update only affects mobile search results — i.e., searches from smartphones and tablets — not searches conducted on a desktop or laptop computer.
Before we go into what, if anything, you will need to do, a brief explanation may help you understand why this has become a recent issue.
Until the last few years, websites were specifically built to display well on desktop screens because the majority of users accessed the Internet using desktop devices. But the Internet isn’t just on your computer screen anymore. It’s also on your phone, your tablet, your laptop, and whatever else the future has in store. So when you visit a modern webpage, its design should take our multi-platform world into account, and morph to ideally match the size and shape of the screen you’re viewing it on. Or, in other words, respond to the viewport dimensions of the device being used to view it. This is called responsive web design (RWD), and partially due to advancements in modern browsers and coding, it has quickly become the most common way to tackle the issues that arise when users view your website on multiple devices.
Without going into details of website coding and development, responsive design is a way to build websites that can be easily viewed and used on any type of device and/or size of screen, from the smallest mobile phones up to the widest desktop monitors providing easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling across a wide range of devices.
As explained above, Google’s announcement is based on changes in user technology, browser capabilities, and coding languages. If your site was not built using RWD it is because it wasn’t a factor when it was developed. So, what to do. You have a few options:
1. Do nothing. If Google page rankings are not important to you, or if your site’s visitors do not typically use a smartphone to access your site, you may not want to do anything. Your site will still show up in a Google search run from a desktop computer as it always has.
2. Upgrade if possible. If your site is WordPress-based (or uses another CMS) we can look into the availability of upgrades that will improve it’s responsiveness. Note: if your site was developed before 2011 this is probably not an option for you.
3. Adjust your present site to meet RWD standards. While not always a simple fix, and depending on the age of your web site, it may be possible to adjust to existing code to make your site more responsive.
4. Build a new site. Creating a new site using current coding language and techniques, while not the least expensive option, will ensure that your site will meet all Google SEO requirements. If your site is old and was built with technology that has become outdated this may be your best option.
Each website is different and will have its own unique fix. Please contact us so we can plan a time to get together, review your site and help you determine the best, most cost effective, solution. We will continue to monitor this situation and report any updates to you.