3 minute read

How Important is a Mobile Friendly Website?

Written by Jim Perren
mobile_friendly

I’m sitting in a Costa café in Holborn and I’ve struck gold!

This must be the only café in London, and the only table in Costa, with a power socket next to it.

Without it, my laptop would quickly ‘die’. I need my laptop to charge my phone, which is at zero battery. Don’t ask – I plugged it in last night and the cable came loose.

My phone is plugged into my laptop and has been charging for ten minutes and is now at 2% battery. At 5% I’m going to risk switching it on, and hope it doesn’t do its usual trick of shutting back down as there isn’t enough power. 

I need my phone so that I can see the access code that Costa have just texted me to access their free Wi-Fi, so I can connect to the office. And I need to call a customer to confirm that they can still see me today.

I am completely snookered – I can’t do anything until it’s charged.

As I sit here anxiously sipping a latte (and wishing my phone would charge faster) it strikes me just how much we have all come to rely on our mobiles. Life seems so darned difficult when you can’t use them.

What has this got to do with Mobile Friendly Websites?

Google knows how much we rely on our mobiles. It sees what devices we are using when we search. The way that we use the internet has just undergone a step change. But let’s look back to last year to start with.

In May 2016 Google changed its algorithm to make it even more important for websites to be mobile friendly. It has been the case for quite some time that non-responsive websites would rank lower in the mobile search results.

Google basically ratcheted this up a notch in May, so that sites that aren’t friendly to mobiles would rank even lower than they did before (but still only in mobile search results).

Google’s search chief, Amit Singhal, announced recently that, for the first time ever, more people searched on Google using a mobile device than a desktop device.

And this is not mobiles and tablets combined.

This was from devices with a screen size of less than six inches. That’s mainly mobile phones – there aren’t many tablets that small.

This seems to have been the tipping point for Google. Look what they announced in early November 2016:

To make our results more useful, we’ve begun experiments to make our index mobile-first. Although our search index will continue to be a single index of websites and apps, our algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site, to understand structured data, and to show snippets from those pages in our results.

Wow. So the thing that Google will be most interested in when it crawls your website is how well it works on a mobile. 

Google is now thinking ‘mobile-first.’

What does this mean for non-mobile friendly websites?

What that means is that it’s not just your mobile searches that will be affected.
 
So if your website enjoys great rankings in the search engines for standard desktop search, but you haven’t yet built your website responsively, your great rankings will be affected, sooner or later.
 
If your key pages stop ranking as well as they used to, it could affect the number of leads coming through the website or the number of online purchases that you see. This will undoubtedly affect the bottom line of your business.
 
All of this shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. Most agencies have been recommending that websites should be responsive since 2014.
 
However, there are undoubtedly still a large proportion of websites out there that are not mobile friendly.
 
If yours is one of them, talk to your agency right away. A typical website rebuild project with a responsive design might take anywhere from three to six months to complete – and who knows when Google’s “experimenting” will turn into their first algorithm update?

There it is - 5% charged! You’ll have to excuse me - I have some calls to make.
 
  
 

Orginally published on Tuesday 10 January, 2017 | Last updated Tuesday 23 July, 2019

Tags: For Marketeers, Web Design