What you need to know
This week is set for Google to reward mobile friendly sites. This post talks about what you need to know and a basic guide to implementing a mobile website or responsive strategy.
Testing your website for mobile capabilities
The first thing to do is actually test to see if you’re website is compatable with the changes that Google are set to implement with their algorithm update. There’s a great mobile friendly tool that you can use to check.
If any of your website content isn’t optimised for mobile, it’s really important to develop a strategy to update soon. Google recognises 3 different set-ups as mobile friendly.
Responsive web design
Responsive design is Google’s recommended design pattern. With responsive design, you’re using the URL and the HTML stays the same – regardless of the users device for browsing websites (desktop, mobile, tablet etc).
Dynamic serving uses the same URL (regardless of device) but generates a different version of HTML for different device types based on what the server knows about the user’s browser.
Creating a completely separate mobile website is a very old and early method of serving a website to mobile visitors. When a user arrives on the website, the configuration will try to determine the device and redirect the visitor to the mobile version.
The reason this is old hat, and not to Google’s recommendations is that you’re having to create two versions of the same content. The other reason is that with content and links being shared almost every second of every day, a user may end up on the mobile version of your website on a desktop machine.
Why responsive web design rocks
Google has put clear emphasis on responsive web design over the others and here’s why. From a content point of view, whether you’re looking at a site on a desktop machine, a tablet or mobile – the URL and content across each platform is the same. This means that when Googlebots are crawling your website, it saves resources by only crawling the site once rather than multiple websites.
From a visitors point of view the experience should be the same across devices. The content is just re-proportioned based on the viewer.
And from a website owners perspective, it’s more efficient and less maintenance as you don’t have multiple pages and URLs for the same content, which speeds up loading times and hopefully result in more conversions.
What Google has to say
In addition to the mobile friendly test, Google has also put together a list of common mistakes to avoid with optimising your website for mobiles.
- Unplayable content
- Faulty redirects
- Mobile only 404s
- App download interstitials
- Irrelevant cross-links
- Slow mobile pages
Like with any Google updates, there are things you need to act on immediately. You may not need to completely redesign your website, you may just need to switch platforms that includes mobile ready capabilities.
Remember, this update is for search results for mobile. You may be penalised straight away, but it’s not a permanent state. You can regain your search rankings after the updates have been made to your website.
If you have any questions on the topic of responsive web design, feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org