Google’s Mobile Friendly Update

If your website is not friendly to mobile devices then you are seriously risking your search engine ranking. Responsive website design has been a standard inclusion in all our website design and development project for several years now. As of this month (April 2015) Google will now consider how friendly your website is as part of it’s ranking algorithm.

Mobile Friendly
So what exactly is mobile friendly? At a high level it is the ability of your website to recognise the device a website visitor is using while viewing your website and tailoring the content and layout to suit.

Different devices have varying screen sizes. Different screen sizes (viewports) have different pixel dimensions. My Macbook Air has a screen resolution of 1440×900 pixels while my IPhone’s screen is 640×1136 pixels. In essence, that means that there is only a certain amount of space on the screen where content can be placed. If a website’s content extends beyond the screen of that device then generally one of two things will happen.

1. The device will shrink everything down to fit the entire website within the screen size. You will notice this when having to ‘pinch’ and ‘zoom’ on certain websites, or
2. The content will run off the screen of the device so that you have to swipe or scroll sideways to view it.

Either way, the end result is a poor experience for the website visitor, and that is exactly what Google is attempting to resolve by opening including ‘mobile friendliness’ as a ranking factor in search results.

Responsive Website Design
The solution is to ensure your website is ‘responsive’, that is to respond to the device the website visitor is using and to present the content in a way that is customized to that device.

We have been using ‘responsive website design’ techniques for several years now. Previously websites were developed for desktop computers and a slimed down version was developed for mobile devices. This practice was expensive as two separate websites were required.

The development of responsive design techniques and the ability to detect a users device ‘responsive website design’ is an affordable and practical way to achieve a great looking and functioning website regardless of how a visitor is viewing the website.

Mobile Friendly Algorithm Update
This update that is now being rolled out is touted to be one of the most significant algorithm updates ever made. Google has placed such an emphasis on mobile search that it has publicly stated that a website’s mobile friendliness will be a ranking factor. This is the first time in memory Google has actually acknowledged one of the ranking elements and as such website developers and owners should take notice.

How to make your website responsive
The procedure for converting a non mobile friendly website into a responsive website differs depending on the way the site was built and the platform on which it runs.

If your website runs on WordPress, Magento, Joomla or Umbraco (or any other mainstream Content Management System [CMS]) then its design and layout is usually controlled by a theme. Themes can be replaced and it may be possible to simply swap out the theme and put in place a responsive one.

If however your website is custom built or a static website multiple website pages may need to be updated or re-coded to be responsive. This may involve rewriting all the pages in the website and updating or rewriting the Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) that control various styles and elements.

The good news is that to convert your website to being responsive you don’t necessarily have to start from scratch. If you are thinking about moving to a responsive website, please contact us.

When should I convert or rebuild by website using responsive techniques?
Right now. The search algorithm update has already taken place and its now only a matter of time before we begin to see websites that ranked reasonably well lose position due to their lack of being mobile friendly. There is no doubt that this update is significant and the shake up to current search results will be devastating to those who don’t offer a mobile friendly website.

Need help?
Call 1300 138 427. We have been building mobile friendly, responsive websites for years and now is the time to take action.