8 March 2015

Responsive Websites Will Be A New Ranking Signal In April

Responsive Websites Will Be A New Ranking Signal In April

The Internet was originally restricted to desktops only – then came the smartphone and the tablet. Before personal devices, website creators only had to concern themselves with one platform; now, it is vital to a site’s success that the user be able to visit it from multiple platforms and browsers. People now expect to get information instantaneously and if they cannot reach a site from their phone or tablet they lose interest quickly. Being mobile-friendly does not just mean a user can visit the site from his mobile device: he must be able to interact with it as well. This means that he should be able to readily access all information on the page and not have to wait for it load, zoom in or out to better read the words, or adjust the screen from left to right. The site must be readily available with information and not need adjustments to be considered truly mobile-friendly.

In an unusually transparent move, Google announced that it would be expanding its use of “mobile-friendliness” as a ranking signal beginning on April 21. The company is typically not so generous in announcing ranking factors or launch dates so site creators should count their lucky stars and get to work right away. By following the mobile device trend, Google is ensuring that search engines optimize what is best for mobile users and not just desktops; that is to say, mobile users will no longer have to navigate through search results that are not user-friendly. Like desktop users, mobile users will see user-friendly sites higher in the rankings and will no longer have to click on multiple results before finding ones that are easily accessible from their phones.

To help sites become user-friendly, Google has begun sending warnings to webmasters warning that their sites are not user-friendly and giving them information on how that can be fixed. In addition to the launch date, Google has announced some criteria that can help webmasters for earning the mobile-friendly label. This includes using text that is readable without zooming or swiping and avoiding software not common on mobile devices such as Flash. Google has a mobile-friendly test tool that a site creator can use to determine if he has a mobile-friendly URL design. If the design passes, the creator will get more information on how the site is seen; if the design fails, the creator will get a list of what is wrong with the site and possible ways to fix it.

If increasing the site’s Google rankings isn’t enough of a push factor to become mobile friendly – and it should be – there are plenty of reasons to make sure your site can be accessed from phones and tablets. Firstly, the meteoric rise of these devices has resulted in the decrease of desktops. Many people choose to forego computers in favour of the smaller devices, and as such don’t have as much access to desktop Internet. Therefore, if you do not have a mobile-friendly site, you will quickly lose access to these people. Secondly, GPS technology often helps users find necessary local information – if your site is not mobile-friendly, you can lose customers right around the corner from you searching for a business like yours. Having a mobile-friendly site also ensures that you do not need to make multiple apps for multiple platforms, a process that is much more time and energy consuming than a friendlier site. While making your site mobile-friendly may seem like a painful extra step, your losses of not doing so will far outweigh your gains. You need to fix your site if it is not easily accessed by these devices; that point cannot be emphasized enough.

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