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Google Increases Mobile Ranking Signals

Google has announced a significant change to its search algorithm, which could affect your website rankings in the search results.

From April 21st 2015, mobile-friendliness will be a ranking signal – meaning that they it will increase the ranking of websites optimised for mobile devices. Google stated that the change will have a ‘significant impact’ on all mobile searches in all languages, worldwide.

Why?

This new announcement is great news for users. It should nudge sites that still don’t have a mobile site to actually built one. It can be frustrating for mobile users when they come across a site that has a poor layout for their mobile device. As a result of this change, user experience will improve, as they will find higher-quality search results that are optimised for their devices.

How important is it to optimise for mobile?

For the most part, this really depends on your audience. If you are a B2C company, then it is essential that you give this some serious thought, as mobile devices account for the majority of website traffic for many B2C companies. If you dismiss the importance of this change, you could result in losing a lot of your business to your competitors who have optimised their websites for mobile, once these changes come into play.

For B2B companies, it is more a case of looking at your competitors – do they all have mobile friendly sites? If not, this change shouldn’t make too much difference to your rankings. That said – having websites that work seamlessly on all devices is fast becoming a web-standard. Don’t ignore this and end up getting left behind.

How do I optimise my website for mobile devices?

There are a couple of ways to do this. Which you choose is really up to you, depending on the needs of your company and how crucial it is for your site to be optimised.

Responsive Design

  • A single website is created, and all pages adapt, using CSS, to the detected screen size; showing, hiding, moving, altering elements as needed and as appropriate. This basically means that the website automatically susses out what size device the user is using, and delivers a view optimised for it. It switches between screen sizes and orientation (portrait/landscape) on-the-fly.
  • This method covers most possibilities of device, so it is more comprehensive than other methods. It keeps your main site intact, so the user experience is consistent on any device – this will continue on updated devices without much further programming.

Mobile Design

  • This is basically a mobile-friendly copy of your website with a separate domain e.g. ‘m.sobialb.co.uk’.
  • It can, however, dilute a domain and be damaging to organic search traffic; because a mobile site uses a separate domain, links shared from mobile browsers will not count as search link equity toward your primary site.
  • This is a good choice when responsive design would not prove cost-effective for your business.

How can I tell if my website is optimised for mobile?

Simply looking at your website on a mobile device will give you a good idea of whether or not your website is mobile-friendly.

If you can’t really tell, Google have created the ‘Mobile Friendly Test’, this will give you a good idea of what stage you’re at, and how much work is yet to be done for your website to be optimised for mobile.

Should I Do It?

Now is as good a time as any. Google is constantly tweaking and changing the search algorithm behind the scenes; they started highlighting mobile-friendly sites in search results last year.

However, it is rare for them to announce updates and changes to their algorithm and ranking signals. This public announcement and specified date is unusual for Google. We won’t know the full impact of these changes until April 21st, however, this announcement, coupled with their statement that the change will have a ‘significant impact’ on rankings, should make you sit up and pay attention.



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