You’ve had your website for some time now. It’s been turning over business well, sales are coming in and the traffic’s returning to it on a monthly basis. It’s a little old and outdated, but hey, it’s working and that’s the main thing.

Unfortunately those site owners may be in real trouble now. On February 26th 2015, Google announced a drastic update that’s coming to their search algorithm:

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.

Note the ‘significant’ in that quote. Google has spoken and it’s time for people to take notice.

It’s no surprise though

Google’s been talking about mobile for years now and has been consistent in their messaging – the future’s mobile and you need to start adapting.

In 2011 Think with Google talked about mobile’s importance in the ‘Zero Moment of Truth’ concept, where mobiles are providing people with instantaneous access at the time they need it most.

Insights from Google have also included research papers, including their Mobile Banking Trends 2012 study which looked at getting mobile right and attitudes towards using mobiles for financial transactions:

48% of customers feel frustrated, annoyed and believe the company doesn’t care about my business” when a site doesn’t work well on a mobile phone.

Google even started introducing ‘mobile-friendly’ labels on its search results in 2014, allowing users to start choosing to avoid non-mobile sites ahead of time.

Of course back then it was the users choice as to whether they continued, but from April 21st, Google will start downgrading the ranking of non-mobile sites. That means the user may not even see that site any more – and that’s a really big deal.

So how do they define ‘mobile-friendly’?

GoogleBot

In their announcement Google defined mobile-friendly as any of the following criteria as detected by Googlebot.

  • Website software compatible with mobile (say goodbye to Flash everyone)
  • Large, readable text without zooming
  • Content automatically resizes to fit the screen (no more zooming out and scrolling across)
  • Large links with plenty of space between each so they are easily tapped
  • Mobile ranking isn’t site wide though, Google is looking at specific pages, but it’s not clear at this point what pages they are.

How can I check if my site is mobile friendly?

The easiest way to check is to Google your site on your smartphone. If you see the the ‘mobile-friendly’ text then you’re good!

Google’s also provided a handy tool called the Mobile friendly test for checking if your site is up to scratch. It’s a nerve-wracking wait for the analysis to finish but if you get a green light then it’s internet high fives all round.

Google Mobile Friendly Test

Does mobile really matter for my site?

That’s going to depend on a site for site basis but you can get a mobile report through Google Analytics. Go to Audience > Mobile > Overiew for a report summarising your sites mobile usage.

What if it’s not mobile friendly?!

Well then sadly you’ve got some work to do. Fortunately there’s loads of fantastic out of the box responsive themes you can buy online and even better if you’re using WordPress.

For a great selection at amazing prices check out Themeforest.net. Our sites built on a theme from there, if you can find it… well… I can’t give you anything per se, but you will get a big smiley face DM on Twitter from me.

Is it a big deal for you?

Is mobile still a big deal for your industry or is everyone doing it already? What do you think are the biggest challenges for the slow movers?