Google to Penalize Websites that Aren’t Mobile-Friendly Starting April 21, 2015

If you own a mobile device, you probably do Google searches on that device. Google says that 94 percent of U.S. smartphone users search for local information on their phones.

Starting April 21, 2015, Google’s search results will label “mobile-friendly” web pages, and it will likely rank them higher in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

Mobile-friendly websites rank higher in Google search results - Blogging BistroOn Google’s Webmaster Central Blog, they write:

“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 kept their language vague, but “significant impact” implies that sites that aren’t mobile-friendly will be penalized in the SERPs.

How Google will label mobile-friendly web pages

An article at Search Engine Land reports that Google will add a text label that reads “Mobile-friendly” at the beginning of the description in the search result.

Here’s what Google says the SERP will look like:

Google's "Mobile-Friendly" label in SERPs.Here’s an example of how a search for “Blogging Bistro” will look when Google adds the label:

Mobile_friendly_Google_resultsHow to find out whether a web page is mobile-friendly

Enter your site’s URL in Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to see whether it will qualify for the “mobile-friendly label.”

A web page must meet following criteria as detected by Googlebot:

  • Avoids software that is not common on mobile devices, like Flash
  • Uses text that is readable without zooming
  • Sizes content to the screen so users don’t have to scroll horizontally or zoom
  • Places links far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily tapped

Tips for building a mobile-friendly site

The average person’s attention span is 8 seconds, so it’s not surprising that mobile friendly websites feature fast load times and are designed to 1) help users quickly find the information they need, and 2) take action.

Attention Spans of Goldfish and HumansI recommend that you explore your own website using a smartphone and ask a friend (who won’t lie to you) to do the same. As you browse, ask yourself five basic questions:

  1. What one thing do I want visitors to each page on my site to notice?
  2. When I click on a particular page, is that “one thing” apparent within two seconds?
  3. Does each page include one call-to-action (the task you want the visitor to complete)? A call-to-action might include signing up for your e-newsletter, calling or emailing you, or buying your products/services.
  4. Can the user easily complete that action in one click or by filling out a simple form?
  5. What graphic and text elements can I get rid of so visitors can easily find what they’re looking for?

After you determine the goals for your mobile-friendly site, you’ll need to decide whether to revamp your site yourself or get help.

For do-it-yourselfers, there are oodles of mobile-friendly WordPress themes to choose from. Be sure to educate yourself on the pros and cons of using themes.

At Blogging Bistro, we specialize in designing and developing custom WordPress websites that use responsive web design (RWD) technology. Responsive sites “respond” to the screen size on which the user views a site; a responsive site will display perfectly on a smartphone, tablet, or desktop computer.

Here’s an example of a website we developed for a Bed & Breakfast Inn using responsive design. When you view this site on a smartphone, test how easy it is to view images and amenities for each guest room, to check availability and to book a room.

Peach Grove Inn Home PageHere’s a screenshot that shows approximately what the site looks like on a smartphone, tablet, and desktop computer.

PeachGroveInnResponsiveScreenshotsView more samples of custom websites we’ve created in our Website & Blog Design Portfolio.

Ready to make your site mobile-friendly?

Give us a call at (425) 244-4242 or email to schedule a free, no-obligation needs assessment.

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Mobile-friendly websites rank higher in Google search results

Mobile-friendly websites rank higher in Google search results