Get mobile-friendly, or get buried by the competition in search results. This is essentially what Google said last week in officially announcing an algorithm change that would make mobile-friendliness a ranking factor starting April 21st.
Signs have been pointing to Google putting more emphasis on mobile-friendliness for months now. In June, Google began telling mobile searchers when a link in the SERP redirected to the home page:
In November, Google officially launched ‘mobile-friendly labels’ which notified mobile users if a site was ‘well-designed for mobile‘ and launched a ‘mobile-friendly testing tool‘. November was also when Google first started testing mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor:
In the official announcement, Google stated, “When it comes to search on mobile devices, users should get the most relevant and timely results, no matter if the information lives on mobile-friendly web pages or apps.” The goal of this change is to make it easier for users to find relevant, high-quality information, no matter what device they’re searching from
In addition to general mobile-friendliness, Google also stated that it has begun to use information from indexed apps (most likely Google Play apps) as a ranking factor for ‘signed-in users who have installed the app.’
Google’s new emphasis in search results makes mobile-friendliness (responsive or otherwise) imperative for every site. Also, companies that only have Apple Store apps might want to consider Google Play for additional ranking play. These particular rankings will be most visible in mobile search, but may very well begin affecting desktop searches as well.
Don’t have a mobile site and need some help getting started? Here are our recommendations:
Use a Responsive Design
Google recognizes three mobile configurations (responsive, dynamic and separate URLs), but prefers and recommends responsive design above dynamic serving or a separate mobile site. Responsive design automatically detects the device being used and adjusts the layout to fit the screen. This works for smartphones, tablets, laptops, large monitors, etc. The main benefit of a responsive design is users don’t experience any slowdowns caused by redirection, and search engines only have to crawl one page.
For more information on mobile configurations, see:
- Select Your Mobile Configuration
- 3 Reasons Why Responsive Web Design is the Best Option For Your Mobile SEO Strategy
Optimize for the Mobile Searcher
When creating a responsive site, keep in mind that searchers using a mobile device use different keyword queries than when searching on a desktop. To combat this, make sure the site is optimized for mobile terms. For example, include local search terms (resorts in San Diego) and more short-tail keywords (resort and spa).
For more information on optimizing your mobile site:
Make Content Shareable
- When users are viewing your site on their mobile device, they are most often also logged in to their social profiles through other apps. Make it easy for users to share your content through social channels by embedding social links into each page.
As Google gives mobile more attention in the rankings, make sure your site is ready!