Four Ways You Can Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly (or Not)
Google is still the search engine of choice for most people, so when Google makes a change to their search engine – people pay attention. The most recent Google change (as of April 21, 2015) will reward sites that are deemed “Mobile-Friendly” and penalize those that aren’t with lower search standings.
You can read all the nitty-gritty directly from Google here (http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2015/02/finding-more-mobile-friendly-search.html).
How about I just share with you what you actually need to know?
Google is like that instructor you had in college that tells you exactly what’s on the test. In this case, they’re saying that your website will rank higher in search results on a mobile device, if your site is “Mobile-Friendly”. Most of the growth in web traffic has been on mobile devices, so it only makes sense that if you’re searching from a mobile device you’d want to be able to access it that way.
Here’s “Mobile-Friendly” test – just plug your web address in the following and it’ll tell you. https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/
Did you pass? If you didn’t, fear not. Here are four ways to make your site “Mobile-Friendly”.
1. Do nothing – that’s right, you always have the option to do nothing. If you don’t care about web traffic, attracting new customers, readers, etc. then you can do nothing and over time your website will begin to diminish in search relevance.
2. Build a mobile app – some businesses have jumped into the app business to address mobile audiences. I have a confession to make, I’m somewhat of an app junky with my iPhone. It’s fun and cool to work from my iPhone, play games, read news, etc. However, I also need to admit that like most people I rapidly abandon apps. Apps are expensive to make and support. Don’t you hate to access a website on your mobile device only to be re-routed to a forced download of their app? Yeah, I don’t like that either. There are cases when an app makes sense, just be prepared to make it an ongoing investment to maintain relevance.
3. Build a mobile-only website – this is a viable option to rapidly provide a mobile experience that’s highly optimized for mobile users. Depending upon how your website was built, you may have the option to use a plug-in, module, theme, or extension (WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, etc.) to detect the browser and render a mobile-specific view. Alternatively, there are external services that you can use that will automatically create the mobile-only website for you via web address re-routing. Having a mobile-only website is very cost-effective, but in the long-term not very satisfying for your users. How many times have you visited a mobile-only website only to feel like you’re not seeing all of the information you want? I almost always look for the “Full Desktop version” link (when it’s available and I recommend making it available) to see what I’m missing. I’d recommend only using the mobile-only option as a temporary measure.
4. Build a responsive website – this is really the right way to do it and is really the way your customers / readers want to access your website. A responsive website automatically resizes and restyles to fit the browser – phone, tablet, laptop, or large-screen monitor. In that way, your user is rewarded with a compelling experience tailored to their device. In most cases, all content is viewable regardless of device, it’s just resized. It’s not too unlike pouring a liquid into a container – in fact, we often call this a “liquid design”. Having a responsive website will require a little bit of planning and you’ll need to give up some control over page layout so that your website can expand/contract in size as needed. If you’re using a CMS-based web system (WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, etc.), then picking a theme/template that’s responsive will help you. This option is generally the best long-term option for you and your users in that it gives the best possible user experience.
So, test your site to see if you’re “Mobile-Friendly” and be prepared to make some changes if you want to stay relevant in today’s ever-changing world.
If you’d like more information about how to become “Mobile-Friendly”, let me know – I’d be happy to help!