On Monday the Google Webmaster Central blog announced yet another update to their search engine results page (SERP) that sends a strong message to any website without responsive design. If your website requires browser technologies that are not supported by the varying mobile devices of searchers Google will display your listing on their SERP with a “warning”. This warning tells searchers that the site they are considering clicking on (yours?) may not work on their smartphone and/or tablet. See the image below. Not very awesome right? Imagine what will happen to your click-through rate when your listing on Google is delivered to mobile users in this manner.
Does this new update sound familiar? It should. Last month Google made a very similar move to display non-responsive website results on their SERP with a nearly identical warning. Websites that are not properly optimized for the mobile experience will often redirect searchers to their mobile homepage. This is often done due to the fact that the rest of the site is not built to adequately function on smartphones/tablets. The assumption is that it is better to send users to the only optimized page (home) even though users clicked on a result that indicated that they were being taken to another page within the site that directly answered their query. Users hate this redirection because they are not delivered the content that they were looking for. Google, with their mandate to best serve the searcher experience, hates this as well. That is why Google now attaches a warning message on search engine results that redirect mobile users to the wrong page.
In two months Google has made two relatively dramatic changes to the way sites are displayed on SERPs when they are not built with responsive design. If you’re concerned about your site showing up on search engine results pages in this manner here is what you need to do:
How to Keep Your Website Free from Being Flagged by Google on Mobile SERPs
1. Stop Using Flash in Your Site Design
Sites using Adobe Flash are the most likely candidates for the Google update. Your developer can attempt to use all the workarounds they like, your site will still be susceptible to being flagged.
2. Have Your Developer Refer to Web-Fundamentals
Google released this update under their Google Developers resource three weeks ago to account for the recent changes they have been making in regards to site design in 2014 and beyond. Web Fundamentals provides developers with documentation on the updated best practices of modern web development. Make sure they are familiar with this resource inside and out.
3. Have Your Developer Refer to Web-Starter-Kit
This resource was also announced three weeks ago. Web Starter Kit is a boilerplate tool for your developer to use to ensure that your site is built for an optimized multiple-device experience.
4. Adopt Responsive Design for Your Entire Website
This is the grand message, isn’t it? Everything mentioned above only exists to convince you of the fact that your website MUST adopt across-the-board responsive design if it has any chance of competing in the modern world? There are no exceptions to this rule. The great thing is, converting your site to adapt to modern technologies is not as daunting a task as it may sound. Have a professional SEO and web design firm analyze your site as soon as possible. You have everything to gain in doing so, and only something to lose by not – as per this one of many more Google updates to come.