Google Wants Your Website To Be Responsive – Is Your Website Ready For Their Mobile-Friendly Requirements?
By Dennis Mitzner. Follow Dennis on Twitter.
If a company wants their site to compete on today’s Web it is clear that the site must consider mobile devices and deliver an optimal experience to all devices and screen sizes. The way this is done is by building that site responsively.
For many companies, the reluctance to go responsive is due to financial reasons. Responsive is not something you “tack on” to an existing website. As such, to build a website responsively, that site needs to be redesigned and rebuilt. This requires an investment of both time and money, which is something that many companies have been unable to afford – hence the hesitation to take this responsive leap.
Thankfully, as responsive web design has become more and more popular, taking its place as an industry standard, the barriers to using this approach have started to come down. It has never been easier to go responsive than it is today.
In the past, responsive websites were hand-coded – a process that is time-intensive and costly. While many responsive websites are still built this way today, there are a number of alternatives available now as well. A number of existing website frameworks exist that include responsive layouts.
These frameworks or templates allow you to get up and running with a responsive site much faster than if you have to build that site from scratch. The downside to these frameworks is that you have to use them as-is or hand-code the changes you want, which often negates the time saved by starting with an existing framework.
For companies and designers who want more control over their responsive website, a platform like Webydo may be a perfect fit. Webydo’s Pixel Perfect Responsive Editor allows web designers total control over all aspects of a site’s design across all different screen sizes.
A designer handles the design and the Webydo software writes the code needed to make that site fully responsive, eliminating the need for hand-coding and significantly reducing the overall time and cost needed to deploy a responsive website that looks great, and works well, on all devices!
Google’s Mobile Friendly Deadline
Google has long suggested that the best way for your website to support a variety of devices and screens sizes is to build that site responsively. Late last year, the world’s most popular search engine went a step further by implementing a “mobile-friendly” label for sites that were optimized for mobile devices. The addition of this label was proof that Google realized that a growing percentage of the searches on their site were done from mobile devices.
As such, they were getting serious about websites supporting those mobile devices and delivering a quality experience to those users. This mobile-friendly label made it easy for searchers to see which sites would work best on their mobile devices – but this was just a first step, as Google clearly stated in their announcement at the time, saying:
“We see these labels as a first step in helping mobile users to have a better mobile web experience. We are also experimenting with using the mobile-friendly criteria as a ranking signal.”
The second part of that statement is of particular interest, as it shows that Google were already considering how they could use mobile support as criteria in their ranking algorithm. At the time of this announcement, many industry experts suggested that Google would one day begin rewarding sites that were built with a responsive, mobile-friendly approach. That day has come.
Responsive for All
In a recent announcement, Google made it clear that they intended to expand on their use of mobile-friendly labels. The early part of their new announcement said:
“As more people use mobile devices to access the internet, our algorithms have to adapt to these usage patterns.”
That announcement goes onto state 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.”
Wow. It doesn’t get any clearer that that! Google is making a change that, in their words, “will have a significant impact in our search results.” This essentially means that sites that are built responsively to be mobile-friendly will be rewarded for taking those steps to best support all devices.
At the same time, sites that have not made this investment in their mobile audience will start to be penalized for their lack of mobile-support. Now, more so than ever, it is essential that your website is a responsive website.
The Rise of Mobile
These changes from Google should not be a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention to website traffic patterns for the past few years. A larger and larger percentage of websites’ audiences are coming from mobile devices and the industry as a whole has predicted that more than 50% of all website traffic will soon be from mobile devices.
This rise in mobile browser usage means that to compete on today’s Web, sites must be mobile-friendly or they risk delivering a sub-par experience to an ever larger percentage of customers.
Now, with Google’s new mobile-centric approach to website rankings, sites that stubbornly refuse to go responsive risk dropping in search engines rankings, making it even harder for customers looking for the products or services that that company offers to find their website.
The Time For Change Is Now
With existing frameworks and software like Webydo available today, there is no longer any reason to avoid taking the responsive leap – especially now that your site’s search engine rankings, and the success of that site, may depend on it!