What Is A Mobile-Friendly Website, And Why Does It Matter?

By March 31, 2015Branding

Google sees that we search for content on mobile devices with increasing frequency, and they are making big changes to adapt to our changing search habits. As of April 21, 2015, Google will rank mobile-friendly website higher than those that are not mobile-friendly when we search from a mobile device.

For now, Google’s change will only impact searches from a smartphone, as they don’t yet consider tablets to be mobile devices. We saw a similar situation play out years ago when Facebook launched their smartphone-only app, saying they did not consider tablets to be mobile devices. Eventually, Facebook changed their stance, as I expect Google will too. For now, smartphone searches are good real estate to hone in on for Google, but it would be wise for us to consider that “mobile” is an evolving term with the flux of tablets and phablets mixing in with phones.

In this post, I will cover why this is important information to know about. I am writing to non-geek people, not professional SEOs, developers, designers, webmasters, etc. There are a lot of websites that are not mobile-friendly, and this big change from Google provides another good reason to have a mobile-friendly website.

“Is My Website Mobile-Friendly?”

Want to see if Google thinks your website is mobile-friendly right now? Use their Mobile-Friendly Test.

Here are two possible results, bad and good:
website-not-mobile-friendly

website-is-mobile-friendly

A mobile-friendly website is one that looks, feels, and functions natively on a smartphone and tablet. If you need to pinch or zoom to read text on the website, it is not mobile-friendly. Note Google’s feedback on the non-mobile-friendly website, how the text is too small, content is wider than the screen, and so on. These are cues that Google is looking for in a mobile-friendly website.

Background

On February 26, 2015, Google gave us advance notice that it would be changing its search algorithm to give us better results when we search for something using a mobile device.

Read it directly from Google here.

How big will this change be? When Google uses the word “significant,” we can safely assume it will be that and more. This is a game-changing shift in how websites are ranked.

Google is already using a light gray “mobile-friendly” tag for search results when the website is mobile-friendly. After April 21, 2015, that tag will be a major ranking factor instead of a courtesy.

Image courtesy of Google Webmaster Central blog

Image courtesy of Google Webmasters blog

If you are not a person who creates for the web as a hobby or for your career, or if you are having a difficult time understanding what all the fuss is about, you are probably asking, “Ok, I understand that mobile is important, yet what is a mobile-friendly website, and why does is matter?”

What is a mobile-friendly website?

A mobile-friendly website adapts and responds to any device. The most popular type of mobile-friendly website is one that uses responsive web design (RWD), which is one website for any device. The content simply responds appropriately for whatever screen/device is viewing it.

For now, Google also considers a dedicated mobile website a mobile-friendly website. This is when a website has a different design just for mobile devices. Dedicated mobile websites are sun-setting in their usefulness as RWD becomes more sophisticated and widely used.

Why Does It matter?

As of the writing of this, depending on the research one reads, Google searches from a mobile device are either equal to desktop searches or have surpassed desktop searches. Here is one study with some interesting stats on what we know. Only Google knows for sure what their stats are, and we can take this mobile-friendly search ranking change as an indicator for what they are seeing.

Whether mobile searches account for half or more than half this minute or a few months from now, the point is that mobile matters. It’s clearly how we are searching for stuff, Google sees this, and is adjusting accordingly.

The bottom line: Google is going to start ranking mobile-friendly websites first ahead of non-mobile-friendly websites. If your website is not mobile-friendly, don’t expect people to find your website via Google.

Don’t Take My Word For It…Take Theirs:

I asked a few fellow web pros the question: “What is a mobile-friendly website, and why does it matter?” Here are their replies.

You never know which device your next customer will use. I was talking to one of my Real Estate clients and they said that Google Analytics said that only 27% of their visitors were from mobile but “all the marketers” are saying things like 80% of internet users own a smart phone. But if only 27% of their visitors are on mobile, do they really need to invest in a mobile site? I asked, “What is the one thing you want people to do most when they land on your website?”

“Call us” they said.

So the first time 27% of you visitors meet you they have a phone in their hand. To that I say: A customer in the hand is worth two on the desktop.

Jason Wiser, owner | WiserSites | wisersites.com


Mobile friendly websites are those websites that when viewed on mobile devices format perfectly to the smaller screen size without any squishing or horizontal scrolling required by the viewer. Yep, they’re literally mobile friendly – for our eyes and our user experience. This ease in experience and seamless integration for mobile is crucial if you want to provide an easy way for folks to read, navigate and devour your content when they’re on the go, using mobile technology. And let’s face it, who isn’t surfing the web on their phone or tablet these day? If you don’t get mobile responsive visitors are going to leave your site for a competitor that is. Mobile is a segment of web users you simply can’t afford to ignore anymore. Get mobile responsive or get left in the dust.

Andrea Beltrami, owner | The Branded Solopreneur | thebrandedsolopreneur.com


Mobile-friendly websites are a must-have for business owners today. First, Google looks favorably upon mobile-friendly websites. This should be enough fuel for you to make sure that your website is up to date and works on all mobile devices. If your website doesn’t have “finger friendly” navigation on the mobile version of your site, you are not giving a good user experience to your website visitors, and they will most likely get frustrated and leave your site. People that have to scroll, zoom in and out and dig around for navigation will more than likely just hit the Back button. Google wants to provide users with the cream of the crop search results that will make their searchers happy. This is one of the main factors that will keep your website ranking well and users happy.

Rusty Wimberly | Severity Design | severitydesign.com


A mobile-friendly website detects when a visitor is using a phone. Once that’s determined, in one way or another the website will adjust to that screen size. This helps make the website readable and easier to use. There will be less scrolling, zooming and squinting going on.

A mobile friendly website is important because you want to make your product or service as easy to access as possible. The more clicking, zooming and scrolling required, the more likely the user is to shop elsewhere.

The vast majority of websites today are still not mobile-friendly. This means that if you update your website now, you will have a leg up on competition. You’ll increase your chances for the inquiry or call.

Jon Singer | jSinger Marketing | jSingerMarketing.com

 

Take Action

If your website is not presently mobile-friendly, and if being found via Google search is important to your business, then you need to get this addressed ASAP.

If your business benefits from being found via Google, making your website mobile-friendly should be at the top of your priority list.

Get in touch with me to talk about this, and see how we can make your website mobile-friendly.

Dan Crask

Author Dan Crask

Hello - I'm Dan Crask. I help brands discover who they are, then express it visually. I co-own Brand Shepherd, am a husband, father of four children, and I don't believe in a work/life balance - it's all life, and all of it matters.

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