When Google says they’re making a change that will have a “significant impact” on search results, you better pay attention.
We don’t always get the luxury of knowing when Google will roll out with one of their famous algorithm updates, like Panda and Penguin (which were not announced).
However, on February 26, 2015, Google made this announcement:
“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. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.”
In other words, you have until April 21 to make your website mobile-friendly if you still want Google to send you mobile traffic.
If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, then you can expect to see your mobile traffic go away.
So in this article, you’ll learn:
- How to see if your website is mobile-friendly (this only takes about 30 seconds).
- How to find out how much mobile traffic you get.
- The difference between Responsive Design and Mobile Websites.
- How to “go mobile” quickly and cost-effectively.
How to See if Your Site Is Mobile-Friendly
This is easy. Simply visit Google’s official Mobile-Friendly Test tool by clicking the link below:
Type in your website’s URL, click Analyze and wait about 30-60 seconds for Google to analyze that page.
You will either see a message that says:
Awesome! This page is mobile-friendly.
It’s worth pointing out, this update is not site-wide. The Google bots will analyze each page on your site and give that specific page a thumbs-up or thumbs-down.
If you fail the test, it will also tell you a few reasons why, such as:
- Text too small
- Links too close together
- Mobile viewport not set
How to See How Much Mobile Traffic You Get
If you failed the mobile-friendly test, then you’re in danger of losing a significant portion of your mobile search traffic.
To see exactly how much traffic that is, simply follow these two simple steps:
- In Google Analytics, click the Audience menu on the left hand side.
- Then click Mobile, which will open a submenu, and then select Overview.
Now you can see exactly how much of your website’s traffic is desktop, mobile or tablet.
Responsive vs. Mobile Websites
When it comes to making a website mobile-friendly, there are essentially two ways to approach this. You can make your site “responsive” to mobile devices, or create a separate mobile website.
An easy way to remember the difference between a responsive and a mobile website is that a responsive website is designed to respond to the screen size of the device viewing it.
On the other hand, a mobile website is a completely separate version of your website that’s designed specifically for mobile devices.
I prefer responsive design over a mobile site because I only want to manage one website.
Plus, I believe it will be more “future proof.” In other words, I won’t have to worry about reprogramming my mobile site when the next generation of smartphones and mobile browsers arrive.
However, responsive design is not always the right option for every business. Next are some pros and cons of responsive design to consider before making your decision.
Pros and Cons of Responsive Design
One website You only have one website to manage.
Single URL Your customers won’t have to be “redirected” to your mobile site.
Future-Ready No need to reprogram the site to stay current with new mobile devices.
User Experience (UX) Potential for poor UX by trying to please desktop and mobile users with one site.
Speed Larger file sizes could cause the site to load slower on mobile devices.
Cost Can be more expensive to build, unless you can simply update to a responsive theme.
Let’s talk more about that last point, since I know many of you may need to figure out a way to “go mobile” quickly and on a low budget if you want to avoid any penalties caused by Google’s mobile-friendly update on April 21.
How to Go Mobile on a Low Budget
If your site is built with WordPress, the quickest way for you to solve this problem may be to simply purchase a web-responsive theme.
You may need to make some updates to the site after installing the new theme, but this a lot less work than building a new website from scratch.
However, if you don’t use WordPress or a content management system (CMS) that uses themes, then you may want to consider getting a mobile website built.
This can be done for less than $500 and only a few hours of your time (if you’re tech-savvy) by using a mobile website service like Duda Mobile or bMobilized.
Here’s a brief description of each service from the UpCity blog:
Duda Mobile: You may have heard of Duda Mobile when Google partnered with them last year. Duda is incredibly easy with a series of templates to choose from. You’ll definitely want the business version at $9/month (the individual version with 10 pages is free) which comes with your own mobile domain — m.yourname.com. They also offer a ‘Hire a Pro’ version, which they will build for the fee of $499 for the first year and $86.40/year after.
bMobilized: A quick and basic website conversion. Easy peasy! There’s no annual contract and you can cancel anytime. Cost is $9/month. They will mobilize your site for you for a one-time fee of $199. Super-affordable with a 7-day free trial so you can check it out.
The bottom line is that more and more people are accessing the internet with mobile devices. If you want your site to show up and provide a good user experience, then you need to make your website mobile-friendly.
April 21 is the deadline that Google has given the world to comply. It doesn’t matter if you like it or not. It’s happening. The question is, what will you do?