I’ve been harping on mobile friendliness quite a bit for the past year. Not just because Google cares, but because your clients and customers are using mobile devices more and more and if you are giving them a bad experience, you are losing them. If you haven’t updated your site to be mobile responsive by now, you really need to do that right away. Google is officially emphasizing mobile friendliness with their algorithm update in April 21.
To quote Google,
“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.”
So what does mobile friendliness mean and what will it mean going forward?
So last year when I started emphasizing this even more, the obvious question was “What is mobile friendly?” For the most part, though it wasn’t a cut and dried yes and know answer, you can tell by accessing your site via a mobile device. Is it easy to use and navigate? Be honest with yourself. Searchers have short attention spans. Do they have to pinch your screen or scroll all over to find important links? If so, you probably aren’t mobile friendly.
If you are a numbers person and still aren’t sure, check out your Google analytics. You can drill down to traffic by mobile device vs. desktop experience. If you see a significant increase in bounce rate and lower time on site for mobile, that is definitely the sign of a problem.
Clearly Google was getting the same questions I was. They have been providing more and more tools to help you understand what they are looking at when they determine your mobile friendliness. They have added a mobile usability tool under “Search Traffic” in Webmaster Tools (WMT). If you don’t have a WMT account set up, you should do it right away. It will give you a wealth of great information about the pages of your site being indexed, mobile issues, indexing issues, etc.
If your analytics data and WMT info is not enough, Google went one step further and provided a tool that will give you a Yes/No on whether a page is mobile friendly or not. It is important to note that this is a page by page basis, and doing your home page and getting a yes does not mean that your entire site is mobile friendly. The tool can be accessed here.
Though this Yes/No tool is handy and the quickest way to see how Google looks at your site, you should always be aware that Google is constantly tweaking the algorithm and making things better. You should still keep an eye on analytics and mobile site speed (tool to measure both mobile and desktop speed here). I have seen many sites that are viewed as mobile friendly from the yes/no tool that have significant mobile speed issues. At some point down the road, even if it is not April 21, this is going to hurt you. There are some that are saying that one of the weaknesses of the April 21 update is that they still will be basing mobile speed on desktop speed data. This is sure to not last long, and I would guess the Yes/No tool will eventually take this more in to consideration with the importance of speed being increased as well.
With the April 21 update coming ever so closely, please run some of these tests on your site and make sure you are ready, or you may see a considerable drop in traffic. If you need help, give us a call. We can give you a better idea of where you stand and even help you go mobile if you need it.