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Google: Have a Mobile-Friendly Website, or You Could Be Sleeping with the Fishes

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Registered site owners who have neglected to switch over to mobile optimized site layouts will be getting an unexpected nudge in that direction if they happen to check on their Google results during these next few weeks. Search Engine Land reports that while typical searchers will see results as they normally appear, these offending site owners will get a stern but succinct message: “Your page is not mobile friendly.” Clicking on the hyperlinked text leads the site owner to Google’s Help page on mobile-friendly optimization, complete with guidelines and step-by-step suggestions for getting on board with the mobile-friendly trend.

While Google’s message is essentially a polite reminder, a more contextual interpretation emerges in light of the company’s move to enhance their “Mobilegeddon” algorithm’s rank docking effect on sites that don’t conform with their mobile-friendly expectations. Reading between the lines, Google’s true message is this: get mobile friendly, or your mobile site rankings could soon sleep with the fishes.

What Is This Mobile Friendly Algorithm and What Does It Mean?

If you haven’t been following the SEO news in the past 12 months, you may have missed all of the apocalyptic-sounding prophesizing that was surrounding the release of a new Google search algorithm. The algorithm’s main intent was to boost the usefulness and viewability of search results for mobile users. However, all anyone could talk about was the consequences for sites who refused to get on the mobile optimization train. Supposedly, failing to conform to Google’s mobile-friendly standards would result in huge drops to your site ranking, allowing your competitors to get a strong leg up in the mobile search environment.

For all the doom and glooms predictions, the actual effects of the algorithm were mild but noticeable. Some sites noticed a dip in traffic to their pages that did not abide by the mobile-friendly guidelines, whereas others remained somewhat static despite ignoring the omens of pain and peril that would ostensibly rain down upon them.

Anyone who remains blissfully in the second camp — those that have not yet optimized their site for mobile — may soon get a rude awakening upon the rollout of the “mobilegeddon” algorithm’s second coming. Starting in May 2016, the rank punishing effect will increase for non-mobile-optimized pages, gradually resulting in worse and worse performance until the pages largely disappear from the first few SERPs (search engine results pages).

To allow sites to brace themselves for potential penalties, Google has begun providing the ample fair warnings highlighted in the intro. Those who take stock in their search engine performance should heed the messages, else their pages could face intensifying obscurity over time.

What Does “Mobile-Friendly” Even Mean?

“Mobile-friendly” could be said to be a loose term, but to most it means four things:

  • A vertical, narrow layout that provides the perfect real estate for convenient scrolling
  • A responsive design that adjusts borders, font sizes and even layouts according to the resolution of the browsing device used
  • Easy, quick access to important page functions like navigating to the home page or placing an item into a shopping cart
  • Keeping the mobile-friendly version of the site on the same URL rather than redirecting to a “mobile-only” version

Naturally, there are hundreds of other critical factors that go into making a nice-looking and functional mobile site, but these four are the best ones to get you started. Site owners and webmasters can quickly test their site for mobile friendliness according to Google’s standards using the company’s helpful evaluation tool.

For a great example of a mobile-optimized site, you really do not need to look further than EverSpark Interactive’s home page. Albeit simple, it hits all the right notes while providing a professional-looking and easy-to-navigate environment for mobile users. Get started optimizing your site for mobile by looking at our Atlanta web design and digital marketing services page, and make sure your company foregoes the same fate as The Godfather’s Lucca Brazzi.