Today, Google implemented a big change to the algorithm it uses to determine where your site is ranked in its mobile search results. This change is focused entirely on the mobile usability of your site and Google's mobile search results. Google is making sure that its users have the best possible experience on their digital appendages by showing only sites in their search results that they consider to be mobile-friendly.
Mobile-friendly is a pass/fail metric that you can easily measure for yourself using their Mobile-Friendly Test tool. If your site passes the mobile-friendly test, then your site is eligible to be seen within search results on a mobile device, but if your site fails the test, your site just plain won't show on mobile searches.
Of course, your site's position on mobile search results isn't guaranteed to be stellar if your site "passes". You will still be in competition with the other sites in your market that pass and are also eligible to be shown on mobile search results. Through Google Webmaster Tools you can get more detailed information on the usability errors that affect your site and fix them to increase your site's ability to rank well. Here are a few common errors that Google is reporting:
- Using appropriate font sizes
- Touch elements sized and spaced properly
- Absence of Flash on your pages will rank higher
- Your website's viewport being set for mobile devices
- You viewport being properly configured.
- Responsive Web Design
All of the factors that Google will be looking for to test your site's mobile usability can be taken care of with a well-crafted responsive website design. Responsive sites present your site in different layouts for different devices based on the size of the screen and it is the recommended method by Google to make your site mobile-friendly. Here are some benefits of a responsive redesign:
- It’s flexible. It adjusts to the website format for all types of devices. When we design a responsive site, we have control over how it is displayed for each of these screen sizes and make design choices to benefit the user.
- The user experience is fantastic, regardless of the device they are using to view your site. Since each “breakpoint” is explicitly designed by our creative team, the user experience is fine-tuned to fit each device and how visitors interact with your site on those devices. Button sizes can be adjusted to accommodate finger-focused navigation, navigation elements can be structured to readily display the most important actions, and graphics can be optimized to load quickly over a cellular data connection. The bottom line is that a better user experience means better site performance in terms of bounce rate, retention and conversion.
- It’s cost effective. Rather than building and maintaining multiple different versions of your sites, which was a popular approach when smartphones were novelties, you only need one version of the site. Content is posted only once making maintenance of your site far more efficient, and new features are easily implemented for all visitors no matter which device they use.
- Google recommends it. Many people experience the web through Google. Over 88% of users worldwide rely on Google as their primary search engine. If Google recommends it, there is a good reason for it; because they’ve figured out that it’s a good experience for their searchers.
The Best Time is Now
A responsive website has always been a good idea, but the urgency to give your users a responsive experience has never been higher. We recently completed responsive redesigns for a few of our clients, and each site was approached in a slightly different way. The results we've already seen have been beyond significant.
Green Drop's recent full-site redesign included a responsive layout. We also added many new features and improvements to the way the site was designed and managed, since it is a core part of their business, but we made sure the mobile and tablet user experience is great, and that the site has every possible opportunity to rank well on mobile search.
For Tourism Canmore, we made their existing design responsive without changing the look and feel of the site. Only the keenest visitors to the desktop version of the site will be able to notice a difference, while visitors on a smartphone or tablet will have a much better experience with the all-new layouts optimized for their device. Since launching the responsive site we've seen a 36% drop in bounce rate, 93% increase in pages/session and 67% longer sessions on the website.
We can help get your site where it needs to be based on your needs. Our team at Pump takes a holistic view of every project so that planning, design, development and marketing efforts are all considered whenever a task is being strategized. If you have questions about your site's design and how it could be improved, get in touch with us!