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Mobile-Friendly Design Becomes a Google Search Ranking Factor on 4/21 – Are you ready?

That janky old website will soon be hurting more than just your business’s pride. An important algorithm change is coming to Google this month that will affect how your site ranks in up to 30% of searches. Is your online strategy ready for this MAJOR update?

About Google’s Mobile-Friendly Search Update

Beginning April 21, Google will expand its use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor in mobile search results. This puts an important (and fast-approaching) deadline on the mobile-friendly shift that has dominated web design and development trends for the better part of the 2010s.

Remember the digital television transition in 2009? This is kind of like that, but on the web. Similar to how so many of us were dragged kicking and screaming away from our old tube TVs, site runners are being pushed forward to new technology – in this case, mobile-friendly websites. Old sites will continue to work online and get ranked in desktop search results, but they will no longer be served up in SERPs for users on mobile devices. Back in ’09 “doomsday” came and went, we survived the change, and now we can all count the blades of grass on the baseball field from the comfort of our La-Z-Boys this spring.

This too shall pass.

What the Mobile-Friendly Google Update Means to You

While Google’s mobile-friendly transition (probably) won’t end in a lake of fire, it will affect your business. Here’s what the change means for webmasters and marketers:

  • It’s all about UX (and a dash of common sense). With the new ranking algorithm, mobile users will more easily find relevant, high-quality search results that they can access on their devices. Makes sense to us — a user searching for something on their mobile device will most likely want to view the results on their mobile device, too.
  • Websites that are properly optimized for mobile users (design, code and content) will be shown preference over those that are not. If your competitors are dragging their feet on going mobile-friendly, this could give you a great chance to jump ahead.
  • On the flip side, if your site looks a mess on iPhone, iPad or Android devices, your chances of getting found in mobile search will plummet. In a world where 46% of searchers now use mobile devices exclusively when performing research online, this could be a serious blow to your business (source). A great first step is to review your website traffic sources to see how many of your

The bottom line: If you don’t have a mobile-friendly website now, then you need to get one ASAP. There is no more delaying the inevitable.

How to Prepare Your Website for the Mobile-Friendly Search Update

Unsure whether your site is ready for the April 21st change? Google’s Mobile Friendly Test tool is an easy way to check. Just enter your web address, click the Analyze button, and wait a few seconds for your results. It’s a simple, binary pass-fail test.

If you pass the test, that’s great! Keep up the good work and keep an eye out for opportunities to further enhance your mobile UI for a better UX. Google’s Webmaster Tools can also let you know if there are errors on any pages of your site that are causing you to fail.

If you don’t pass the test, don’t panic. Yes, some sites will require a complete rebuild, and that’s going to require your time and money and effort. Just remember that it’s a natural part of the solution lifecycle. If it’s been since before mobile accessibility was on your radar that you designed your site, you are probably past due for an update anyway.On the other hand, it might not even be that big of a deal to update your site.

For information about the various approaches to mobile-friendly web design and development, check out this post.

If you need help figuring out where you fall on the scale of “no biggie” to “back to square one”, drop us a line and we’ll let you know and give you a quote, free of charge.