Google has been talking about their preference for mobile friendly and responsive websites for some time now – you may not have noticed, but they have even been telling mobile users which sites are responsive in their SERPs or search results (see the official announcement), so that users can chose results that provide a more positive user experience.
But Google has recently got very specific about the impact of not having a mobile website – on Thursday, February 26, 2015 on Webmaster Central Blog, Google announced that effective from April 21, 2015, it will update its search algorithm so that comparable mobile sites will rank higher than non-mobile friendly sites in mobile search results.
That’s right…Google is trying to put mobile users first.
According to the announcement, Google said:
“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.”
To view the full announcement and blog post, check out Google’s Webmaster Central Blog.
SEO impact for non-mobile friendly or non-responsive websites?
Google Penalty for Non-Mobile Websites
The message is clear, if your current website isn’t mobile friendly (Google prefers Responsive websites), it will start to drop in Google’s mobile search results. So pay attention to your search engine results pages (SERPs) and your site volume, and more importantly, put together a plan to upgrade your website to a responsive site.
Why go responsive?
Google’s announcement isn’t the only reason you should upgrade to a responsive web design.
Mobile usage is on the rise
Currently, more than 58% of American adults own a smartphone and almost 60% of all website traffic is from mobile devices. In fact, there are currently more mobile devices on earth then their are people. And every month mobile usage continues to grow, so every month more and more prospects and customers will view your website from a mobile device. If their experience viewing and interacting with your site is poor, they’ll likely have a lower option of your brand, and they’ll also be more likely to visit a competitor’s site.
Shopping on mobile devices is steadily growing
Online shopping is easier than hopping in the car and driving to the store and it is even easier if you can do it in your favorite chair, while watching TV. 80% of consumers regularly use their smartphones to shop online. And 70% of shoppers now use mobile phones while in stores during the holidays. If your products and services aren’t easy to view from a phone, you’re missing out on an opportunity.
Social media increases mobile visitors
Over 55% of social media consumption now happens on mobile devices, so sharing links from social media sites like, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, or Google Plus to your website will mean even more traffic and viewing of your website from mobile devices. So if you have a social marketing strategy and want to leverage social sharing of content, get responsive.
Responsive sites improve SEO rankings
Responsive development is Google’s recommended approach for mobile web design. Per Google, responsive websites will perform better in search rankings because they provide a better user experience than sites that are not mobile friendly. Additionally, Google likes that responsive sites use single URLs vs. different URLs for seperate mobile versions of websites.
Furthermore, mobile phones now have a separate Google search algorithm as well, so just because your site ranks high via a desktop search doesn’t mean it will continue to rank well for individuals for perform the same search via their phone. This issue becomes even more critical when you consider that mobile searches will overtake desktop searches in 2015! If you think search optimization (SEO) is important, than your site better be responsive.
Responsive designs adapt to multiple devices sizes
Want your web design to look great, no matter the device or screen size? Then responsive web design is the way to go. But don’t just think about today with smartphones and tablets. Think about tomorrow with smart watches, and Google Glass, and whatever new devices pops up for internet viewing. Responsive web design and development will work for them too.
With a responsive site, your site will adapt to each device, providing the relevant layout and content that best meets the users’ needs. It also means that your business will only have one site to manage, meaning you’ll only have to update content one time, regardless of how different people consume your content. That also means lower web content management costs and higher R.O.I.
Responsive sites provide a better user experience
There are plenty of business reasons to implement a responsive website, but they all connect back to the goal of providing a better user experience for your audience. A responsive site means no more pinching and zooming, and no more side scrolling, to see an entire site that doesn’t fit on a mobile screen. And a better user experience reduces bounce rates, boosts website conversions and improves brand perception.