As many of you noticed…
… the majority of worldwide media outlets are channelling “chicken little” as they report the imminent crisis caused by today’s mobile search changes at Google.
My inbox is rapidly filling up with queries from concerned website owners so here is a more complete and balanced explanation.
What are the changes at Google?
Starting April 21st, Google will favour websites that are “mobile-friendly” in their search results – but only for searches done from mobile phones.
Many reports have omitted this rather important fact. Google writes: “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.” 1
Interestingly, a form of this has already been in place for the last three months: websites that are mobile-friendly are marked as such when a search is carried out on a mobile phone: they get a subtle “Mobile-friendly” tag beneath the page link – as shown in the example image above.
So, just to be clear: this change will not affect searches done from “traditional” computers such as desktops and laptops.
What is a mobile-friendly website?
A mobile-friendly website is one that understands it is being visited by someone using a mobile phone and it resizes itself to aid both usability and legibility.
How do I tell is my website is mobile-friendly?
The best way is to ask Google. Go to https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly and type in the address of your website. A few minutes later you should get a definitive “yes” or “no”.
How is not being “mobile-friendly” likely to affect my business?
Currently, this change will only reduce the amount of customers finding you on Google via mobile phones. Even then, your visitor numbers will only reduce if your business has competition from companies that have mobile-friendly websites. Consequently, the impact of this change will vary from business to business.
However, mobile phone usage has been on an upwards trend for nearly half a decade so the affect will grow year-on-year.
Do tablets count as mobile phones?
Google have not been 100% clear on this, but all the indications are no – this will not affect searches from tablets as Google does not consider them mobile devices. For example, tablets never received the “Mobile-friendly” tag mentioned above.
What should I do if my website isn’t mobile-friendly?
In my opinion, this depends on how many of your (potential) customers these changes affect. If you’d like to know how many of your visitors find you using a Google search from a mobile phone please reply to this email and I’ll let you know as soon as possible.
If you decide the impact is significant – or you’d just like the opportunity to pull ahead of your competition – we will provide a quote for making your website mobile-friendly.
The cost will vary depending on both the age of your website and the platform it uses, but be aware that mobile-friendliness will always require a full redesign, usually resulting in a simpler appearance that can re-arrange itself vertically and display properly at many different screen widths.
I hope you found this clarification useful.
All the best,