It started in October 2012: Google announced that its Webmaster Tools would start to let users know by email when Google discovered critical issues with their site. Back then, Google stated that it would begin to notify webmasters about issues that it felt would have a significant impact on their site’s health or search performance so that site owners could quickly address the issues. Fast forward to 2015 and Google has been sending out warning notifications like mad to owners of websites that are not mobile friendly. The official Google Webmaster announcement was this:
“Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high-quality search results that are optimized for their devices.”
Google has been experimenting for a while now with encouraging businesses to focus on user experience and provide mobile-friendly sites. It has already launched a mobile-friendly testing tool, made available a mobile usability report through webmaster tools, and added the label of “Mobile Friendly” to search results. As far back as 2013, Google had begun to penalize sites that provided a bad mobile experience and to boost those that provided a great experience. Common issues that send up red flags include the following:
- Having a separate, dedicated mobile website (instead of a responsive one) and disallowing indexing of the mobile site with a robots.txt file to prevent duplicate content issues
- Using fonts that are not easily readable without zooming
- Using Flash or other cross-browser-incompatible software
- Resizing content improperly or having horizontal scrollbars
- Improperly spacing links and buttons
What Does It All Mean?
Google’s changes affect only searches done on a mobile device (phones and tablets); but, as we know, a growing percentage of people search from their mobile devices, and this number will increase exponentially in the future. It is now more important than ever to make sure websites are mobile friendly, both to respect users and to avoid being penalized by Google.
It’s Time to Take Action
Multiple options are available, and here at Ocreative, we are happy to sit down with you and your website to talk about the steps we can take to ensure your site’s ranking doesn’t take a hit. Not sure if your website passes? We can help with that, too. Get in touch today!