Google Mobile Ranking Algorithm Update – Responsive Design Mandatory

Google Mobile Ranking Algorithm Update

32 days. If you’ve found this article today, that’s all you have to adopt responsive design for your business’ website.

Last month Google casually put a date to the long anticipated release of mobile-friendliness being a major ranking factor in smartphone search results. From April 21/2015 forward, any prospective customer of yours using an iPhone, Android, or tablet to search for information on your industry offering will either be more likely to find your website, or less likely, depending upon whether or not you pass Google’s mobile test. Industry experts are calling this algorithm update bigger than Penguin or Panda. If you’ve been following my recent posts on Penguin and Panda then you know such a statement is nothing to take lightly.

The great news, is that it’s not too late if your website is not ready for this update. You have time to take action. But before you do, please take note of the following regarding Google’s call to mobilize websites across the world:

Why Mobile Optimization is Now Mandatory for Your Online Business

1. Google’s New Ranking Algorithm Says So

Again, as of April 21/2015 Google will officially consider responsive design when ranking websites for all keyword searches. Sites that view and function well on modern handheld devices will rank better than those that do not, all else being equal. For example, if you are a real estate agent competing neck and neck against another for the same search terms, the one with the most mobile-friendly website will likely rank better into the latter half of 2015 (and beyond).

2. 2015 Is the Year Mobile Search Exceeds Desktop Search

This algorithm update would not be such a big deal if mobile search wasn’t becoming so dominant. While some industries may not see a significant number of consumer driven searches coming from smartphones and tablets, many, if not most, do. Last year saw the very first moment where mobile search overtook that of desktop and the year ahead will continue along that path. Bottom line – your customers are searching for information on your product/service offering while on their smartphones. You will want to do all that you can to ensure that your website has been built/rebuilt to provide them with an optimal navigating experience.

3. So You Passed the Mobile “Test”, But Are Some Web Pages Being Tagged with Warnings in Search?

I’ve already reviewed websites that pass the above-mentioned Google mobile test yet continue to violate other mandates handed out by Google webmaster central. For instance, a high-value landing page on your website may still use browser technologies unsupported by the varying mobile devices of searchers (such as a flash banner, etc.). This page, which may have served to bring you qualified traffic for quite some time will now be tagged with a warning message on the search engine results page, ultimately reducing the customer click-through rate.

Another major issue that I’m witnessing more often than I should, is the redirection of non-responsive webpages to the only mobile page on the website – the homepage. Such a tactic is used as a shortcut to providing users with a “mobile experience” yet it frustrates searchers, who expect to be delivered the content page they were looking for, and not the website’s homepage. Returning to the you as a real estate agent  example, a buyer may search “one bedroom condos for sale” and find the page on your website (listed on a Google search engine results page) that has these listings. However, upon clicking this result, the mobile homepage redirect occurs and frustrates the buyer because they now have to perform an internal search on your website for the same information, again. Because of this, Google is tagging websites guilty of the tactic with another warning, once again reducing the customer click-through rate. This Band-Aid fix may currently show-up as a “pass” on the Google mobile test (for now), but it hurts searcher-to-customer conversion.

Conclusion – The use of the term “mandatory” in the article title may seem sensationalistic to some, but when you consider the measures that Google is taking to ensure that responsive websites are rewarded on search (and vice versa for others) responsive design is indeed mandatory  to the success of your online business. Request a comprehensive mobile “health check” for your website today to prepare for tomorrow, which has already arrived.

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