Things are getting real in the area of mobile friendly websites (websites made to work on your cell phone or tablet without “pinching and zooming – they fit nicely).
Much like the growing pains we went through in the early 2000’s where websites were “the thing to do” but soon became the thing “you have to do”, we are currently about ¾ the way through a similar journey in the realm of how websites relate to the mobile Internet revolution.
I won’t look up when the big tech blogs marked the beginning of the mobile phenomenon, but in our smaller market of 50,000 people, mobile friendly websites started to become a question in consultations around 2012, and early adopters were on board in 2013. We decided to make it an option in 2014 with most new sites, big or small, going mobile friendly (we still give the option to opt out for budget). I’ll say it right here, if you don’t develop your new site mobile friendly right off the hop, it’s like the new car that depreciates the moment it leaves the lot, you’ve got last year’s website right now.
That’s right – Google loves mobile friendly. Google also loves its mobile users (anyone that searches from a mobile device) because they know that mobile users are overtaking desktop computer users online, and that means YOUR users too! Google, believe it or not, cares about user experience and serving content that works best for the user, and that also means content that works best on the user’s device. Google cares SO MUCH that they are about to lay the smack down on websites that are not mobile friendly with a new ranking algorithm that penalizes websites that aren’t mobile friendly. Check out the example below. Doing a search for “Brandon Websites” first on a desktop computer, then iPhone, check out the ranking difference in each based on it’s mobile browsing friendliness!
OK, so the rank change is one spot, but realize the new Google algorithm hasn’t taken place yet – we have no idea what sort of damage is in store. Here’s the cuckoo in the coalmine, otherwise known as an email directly from Google to people like us about the antiquated websites we manage for some of our clients, which in no uncertain terms states “These pages will not be seen as mobile-friendly by Google Search, and will therefore be displayed and ranked appropriately for smartphone users.”
So what’s the deal? Google has been nice for the last couple of years but has gotten to the point of not fooling around when it comes to mobile search rankings and anyone clinging to the idea mobile web isn’t the thing you have to do. In my opinion, if you are first for a search term with little competition (i.e. you have a niche), you’ll probably stay there, but if you are at the bottom of page one and on the slippery slope to page two, this news should make you a bit clammy. The smart money is to go mobile and pop up ahead of everyone else driving last year’s model.
Scott Kasprick is a graphic designer in Brandon, Manitoba and owns and operates Reaxion Graphics while helping his wife raise three lively daughters!