As you might have heard, Google recently announced that they are actively testing pretty big changes to their search algorithm (the complex formula that determines the order of organic search results). Specifically, they are looking to focus on the mobile version of websites when analyzing your website’s content and determining where it should rank. To quote the Google Webmaster Central Blog:

…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.

Google Webmaster Central Blog

I can’t emphasize this enough – this is a major shift and important for all businesses, large and small, to consider. While companies without mobile sites won’t be left in the dark (Google says that desktop-only websites will still be indexed), it’s definitely going to impact your rankings and you’ll want to take steps to improve your website’s mobile-friendliness. This isn’t just good for your organic ranking in Google, it’s also important for your site visitors’ user experience. In October 2016, mobile and tablet devices accounted for 51.3% of worldwide internet usage, exceeding desktop devices for the first time). This happened one year after mobile searches overtook desktop searches on Google.

Have Separate Desktop and Mobile Websites?

If you currently operate two different websites for desktop vs. mobile, it’s definitely time to rethink this strategy and consider developing a responsive website instead. For most companies running mobile-only websites, a very ‘thin’ version of the content is served to users. While brands might see this as the best way to get mobile visitors the most relevant information, it will eventually be the primary information Google uses to rank your website in the all-important organic search results. If you’re not sure what you’re serving to mobile visitors, use the Fetch as Google tool in Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools) to find out.

What Should I Do?

  1. Use Google Analytics or whatever web analytics platform you’ve set up on your website to determine how much of your current traffic comes from mobile devices. This is always good to know.
  2. Determine if you have a responsive website, separate desktop and mobile sites or just a desktop site and create a web development strategy to move toward a responsive website.
  3. Use the robots.txt testing tool to make sure you’re not blocking Google from seeing your mobile website.
  4. Stay tuned here for more content to help ensure your website is mobile-friendly. We’ll look closer at some of the tools discussed here as well as other best practices around mobile visibility.