Google has recently announced that:

Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results.

The algorithm update is being referred to as “Mobilegeddon.”

Seldom does Google announce their planned changes to algorithms; developers are not told of their release or their purpose. Making this change public knowledge more than a month before the implemented date indicates the significance this will have on the market.

Google is the most important source of traffic for many businesses and determines how easily potential customers will find your services.

Nearly 80% of users now access the Internet from mobile devices, so it makes sense that Google would refer users to content that is mobile-friendly. If your site cannot be displayed properly on a mobile device, then Google presumes that the content cannot be easily consumed, reducing your ranking and overall effectiveness in the search engine.

To benefit from this algorithm change, businesses should ensure that their websites are entirely optimised for mobile viewing.  In order to accomplish this, the first step visiting Google’s Webmasters service to check the mobile-friendliness of your site. Google’s Webmaster service will scan, measure and benchmark your site to check if it is mobile-friendly, and provide a report listing any present errors. Of course, adhering to the changes that Google suggests will ensure that your website is legible to Google’s algorithms; however this doesn’t mean that it is legible to a human, so it is always worth consulting experts for a thorough analysis to ensure you end up with a fully mobile-optimised website.

When creating a mobile-friendly version of your website, there are two options available. The first approach is producing a separate mobile version of the site, which can be more useful when the full version of your website is large and comprehensive. Building a new version of your site specifically for mobile can allow you to control any special functionality and loss of information that may come from scaling down to mobile. The second approach, which is proving to be more common, is to build a responsive framework from the ground up, based on a mobile-first methodology that optimizes the content for multiple screen sizes. Both will help you be prepared for the 21st April Mobilegeddon Google deadline.

Emily Alford over at searchenginewatch.com gave an example of a well-known company and the issues they are facing with Google ranking because of the fact that they have a seperate mobile website and not a single responsive one. You can read about it here.

Separate Mobile Version

Mobile version is separate from your existing website, and is presented specifically to users when they access your site from a mobile device. Content has to be applied to both the mobile and desktop versions of the site, resulting in an increase in maintenance costs.

Responsive Framework

Your site’s frontend code instructs the browser on your device on how to configure and optimize the content that is displayed. This option requires less maintenance long-term, but if your existing website is not mobile-responsive, it may be difficult to complete by 21st April. Many websites offer a limited version of their full desktop site that can be viewed on mobile devices. These typically show the most important information such as a basic introduction and contact details.

Our conclusion: if possible, create a responsive website that can accommodate both desktop users and users visiting your website from their mobile devices. If you don’t yet have a mobile-friendly website, you haven’t got long.

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