In a recent statement on their Webmaster Central Blog, Google announced that starting April 21, 2015, its algorithm will further expand to favour websites that are mobile-friendly. In doing so, "users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices."
How does Google's algorithm work?
Google's search engine exists to match a web visitor's query with relevant websites. In order to do this, Google sends its bots to crawl web pages for specific factors necessary to compile the list of results produced after a search is performed.
The algorithm used to compile any given list takes into account factors such as keywords/phrases, social authority, and mobile-friendliness.
What does the new update mean?
Google's search engine algorithm changes constantly - in fact, almost daily - so when an announcement is made regarding a specific change, it's important to listen and take subsequent action.
Mobile-friendliness has always factored in to Google's search preferences, but since most web visitors access the internet via a mobile device as opposed to a desktop computer, it's now become a factor that will carry more weight in order best serve users.
In the simplest terms: websites that are optimized for mobile-friendliness will rank higher on a list of search results than websites that are not.
What does this mean for you?
You can expect a significant drop in web traffic if your website isn't mobile-friendly - a direct result of a low search engine ranking.
If you operate on the Advisor Websites platform and checked the 'mobile-friendly' option on your dashboard, the update will not affect your site.
Not sure what design your website is? You can run this quick test to determine whether your website has a mobile-friendly design.
What does mobile-friendly even mean?
'Mobile-friendly' is a nice, hyphenated way of saying that a website is 'friendly' or 'easy to view' on a 'mobile' or 'any' device that isn't a desktop computer, ie. a smart phone or tablet.
Under the umbrella of mobile-friendly technology are websites that are mobile optimized, mobile-friendly*, and responsive.
A mobile optimized website is typically specific to a smartphone view - it requires a different URL and design from your desktop site, pulling only the most relevant information to the forefront.
(*I know... I just... I know. The best I can do to explain this naming fail is to say that the grapefruit and the fruit 'grape' are both part of the fruit-family while still being entirely different, that a specific 'mobile-friendly' design happened prior to 'mobile-friendly' becoming a catch-all, and leave it at that.)
A mobile-friendly website is essentially a compact version of your desktop site. Its design is static and rigid, meaning it looks the same across all mobile devices - content does not adjust for a device's best usability.
A responsive website 'responds' accordingly to a device’s screen size (large or small), as well as its orientation (landscape or portrait). Its design is fluid and dynamic, meaning it looks different across all mobile devices - content adjusts for a device's best usability.
Of the three, a responsive design is Google's preferred configuration.
Why should you have a mobile-friendly website?
Even beyond Google's say-so, existing and prospective clients expect you to stay current when it comes to technology - they're online, on mobile devices, and that's where they expect you to be as well.
To aid in this endeavour, last month Advisor Websites launched a handful of responsive website designs (check out one of our live responsive sites), so if you'd like more information or want to talk about an upgrade - give us a jingle.