I have been preaching quite heavily especially in the past couple years to either have a separate mobile friendly website (m.domain.com) or even better yet a responsive website. A responsive website “responds” to the width of the screen viewing it to display all of the elements in a more friendly fashion. This is done by stacking elements, shrinking images or removing them, and displaying a mobile/touch friendly menu. That way your website looks good on desktop computers, tablets, and also smartphones. Many websites on the Internet are still not mobile friendly which is frustrating for the user experience, sometimes almost unusable. On many sites, the inbound traffic is now over 50% accessed by mobile devices. If they can’t easily find what they are looking for, they leave (bounce) away from the website and look at a different one. In the past this only affected overall usability however Google is now unleashing a major algorithm update taking effect on April 21st which many in the industry have nicknamed Mobilegeddon.

Google’s secret sauce will now take into effect the mobile-friendliness of a website, whether it has a separate m.domain.com or is responsive. Google has made it clear that it will now have a significant impact in their search results. The idea is that people will be happier with their Google search results if Google sends them to websites that are not only relevant but easier to navigate on the particular device they are viewing it. Otherwise people would “blame” Google for giving them search results that aren’t as good.

TESTING

How can you test your website to see if it is mobile friendly? Use this Google tool:

https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly

Here are some recommendations from Google for smartphone-optimized websites:

http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.ca/2012/06/recommendations-for-building-smartphone.html

SOME TECH NOTES

Mobile friendliness of a website is going to be determined at the page level and not site wide. Tablets are not affected in this particular update. Google is actively working on a dedicated mobile index. The Googlebot needs to be allowed to crawl JavaScript and CSS in order for your website to pass the mobile friendly test. For those that chose to go with a separate m.domain.com website, remember to use canonical tags pointing to the desktop URL address for duplicate mobile pages. This will resolve potential duplicate content issues which Google can penalize you for. Don’t put these canonical tags on any unique content pages. For responsive websites, there is nothing special you need to do outside of normal best practices. If you use WordPress, look for a “responsive” theme to install on your website.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOU?

This will result in a better experience when searching on Google. Websites should be easier to navigate on whatever device you use.

12 Comments
  1. That’s actually very good news. My friend is planning on releasing a website that focuses on the art of photography and this will come in very handy. Thank you for providing these links, I’ll be sure to forward your article to my buddy!

    • Hopefully, this will help to make mobile Google searches a more satisfying process – I do get frustrated with incompatible websites and it often takes an age of loading before you realise that ther’s no point. Well done Google!

      • Exactly what you’ve said! I often get frustrated when Google screws with me with the results. With these said, I cannot wait for the conference to begin. I’m intrigued!

  2. Very glad to read this, I use Google as my main and only search engine. I totally love it! Glad to hear they’re going to make it even more easier and nicer when searching for a web site using their engine. There are times I need to search for something while at the doctor’s office, but most of the medical web sites I find aren’t even mobile friendly 🙁 It is annoying!

  3. That’s really good to hear, I don’t usually surf the internet on my phone because it’s so inconvenient with sites that aren’t mobile friendly. It’s good to see that Google is making a push for websites to become more mobile friendly, with the large amount of traffic which is coming from mobile devices I don’t see why most sites aren’t responsive already. I’m sure that with this news, more sites will prioritise this which is great!

  4. That’s great news for the end user, not so great news for those who aren’t prepared. But it’s 2015 and everyone uses their smartphones and almost everyone has one, so I have little pity to those not prepared for it. I am an end user after all, so it’ll be just good for me. I hadn’t heard of this “mobilegeddon” before reading the article, so this was helpful.

  5. Wonderful news!
    This should definitely make mobile web browsing much more enjoyable/functional.
    Welcome to the mobile age.

  6. This is awesome. I do maybe 10-20% of my surfing on my phone (often in bed, haha) and I can attest to how insanely annoying it is to go to a non-compatible site. Really well done of Google to be proactive about this.

    • Lol, me too! I know they always say not to use devices just before trying to go to sleep but I can never resist one last look at Facebook before I do! They’re also handy for it you;re awake in the middle of the night and can’t drop back off.

  7. Am I alone in thinking that nearly three weeks down the line, I haven’t noticed a great deal of difference in my mobile searches at all?

  8. This is actually a pain in the ass for those website owners who have a lot of websites which is not mobile friendly. They need to manually make a way to make their site mobile friendly as soon as possible because they might get in trouble with this update. One of my friends website has been hit by this update and loses a lot of ranking position.

    On the other hand I think this update is good. Because most of the searches nowadays came from mobile devices. Most of the people nowadays do searches using their smart phones instead of a laptop or a computer.

  9. Google knows mobile computing is the future of the internet. When mobile devices finally have universal support, non-mobile devices can adapt the much more user friendly sites. It would be much easier to build a site designed for mobile use, and use plugins to expand content for desktop users, rather than build and maintain two separate sites.

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