Google brings the hammer down on non-mobile friendly websites
The statistic is that about 73% of the people searching the internet these days do it on mobile devices and yet only about 20% of the companies have mobile friendly websites. So, about 3 out of every 4 searches on the web is via mobile and only 1 in 5 businesses have mobile optimized websites. You have to understand that Google manages two different indices for search data. The first one is the “desktop index” which is what we’ve all become accustomed to over the last 15 years or so. The second is the “mobile index” which is how they manage and track searches done from mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets, etc. If you compare the two, you’ll see very different results. Now they are enforcing what they’ve found by managing those two indices – that a mobile experience must be optimized to be user friendly. We’ve all opened a website on our smartphone only to be greeted with tiny text and no practical navigation. This is what Google’s current war is against and it makes perfect sense. Mobile searchers are in the majority and they should get the most user friendly and actionable results from their searches.
The fallout is three-fold. First, Google will rank your site less than comparable sites than are mobile friendly. Secondly, since you’re being ranked less favorably you’ll get less traffic and third, the traffic you do get won’t have a good experience if they’re using their mobile device! This went into effect last month (April 21st, 2015) so if you’ve noticed any lessening of traffic in the past few weeks, this could be the culprit. Fortunately, for many of us, the fix is not too difficult.
***I should note that Google has said that lack of a Mobile Friendly site will NOT negatively affect your desktop search results. They are not penalizing your desktop search results because they aren’t mobile friendly but your mobile search results will be affected. Regardless, the writing is on the wall and you should take action quickly to ensure your site is mobile friendly.
How do you know?
Finding out is very easy. Go to Google’s very own Mobile Friendly Test site and enter your website’s URL. You’ll get an answer back in a couple of seconds. As you can see, SnugData is Mobile Friendly! (yay!)
Google has made it very clear that the results of this test are either “yes, it’s mobile friendly” or “no, it’s not mobile friendly”. There are no gray areas, no “63% mobile friendly. Either it is, or it isn’t.
You can also go to MobileTest.me, choose a mobile device to test, enter your URL and see what it comes back with. You’ll be presented with the view a user of the type of the device you selected sees when they access your site.
In the image, it’s interesting to note that when you are testing your site at MobileTest.me, the menu items and such are fully functional. So although at first it appears that you are looking at a static image of what your site will look like, if you click on the menu options, they actually work. Very cool!
What if it’s not mobile friendly?
…or, try this. If your site is a WordPress site, the fix is fairly easy. Via the Jetpack plugin you can enable mobile friendly. Once you do this, refresh your website and then try it again in Google’s testing tool to verify. In WordPress you can also use the “WPtouch” plugin to accomplish the same thing. Download it, activate and let it do it’s thing. Very easy.
There are also a host of “responsive” web themes and packages you can consider. If you have a large legacy site, this might be more trouble that it’s worth but if you’re spinning up new sites then a hard look at responsive sites makes a lot of sense.
If you’re not using WordPress (gasp!!), then things are a little more involved. Your web administrator will either have to update the code or you can mirror your site to another site such as gomobi.info. On goMobi you can sign up for a service where they will basically host a mobile site for you on their own hosting servers and anytime a mobile user hits your website, they’ll be redirected to the MobileTest.me’s site and be presented with a mobile friendly view of your site. This is a very cool offering, doesn’t cost too much, and eliminates the hassle of updating all of that code. Of course, over time you probably should update it but this is a viable quick fix for the interim.
to wrap up this little dissertation, I’d like to discuss some of the “the sky if falling” comments you’ll see about this. Here’s a few headlines to chew on:
“Google will punish you if you don’t have a Mobile-Friendly site”
“Site not Mobile Friendly? Kiss your Google Ranking Goodbye”
“Will Mobilegeddon Doom your site?”
“Traffic Doom! Google To Punish You For No Mobile Website”
…and there are plenty of others. My point here is that if you believe everything you read, you’re probably expecting a Google Godzilla to go rampaging through the internet, knocking all non-mobile friendly websites in the sea and breath blasting whatever is left. Well, so far Googlezilla has not arrived and most websites are doing OK. However, take the discussions here to heart and make the changes you need to make to become mobile friendly. There’s plenty of very good reasons to do so, even without the threat of being stomped on by Google-zilla.