In the first of a series of end-of-year blog entries, I wanted to talk about one of the biggest changes in the history of Google Search – the ‘mobile friendly’ update.
On 21st April 2015, Google made changes to it’s search algorithm, which meant web pages that were ‘mobile-friendly’ were favoured in mobile search results. This meant that Google would look at the code from a web page and identify if it was easy to use on a mobile device, such as a Smartphone.
Google uses a number of factors to determine whether a page is mobile-friendly, namely; text being readable without tapping or zooming; “tap-targets” such as buttons and links being far enough apart to prevent inadvertent tapping; and whether the page avoids content that is incompatible with a mobile device, or which causes horizontal scrolling.
This major change wasn’t just another SEO old-wives-tale, it came straight from Google. Here is a blog post from Google all about the ‘mobile-friendly’ algorithm change…
So what did the mobile friendly change mean for people who have a website?
The changes meant that anyone with a website that DIDN’T use a responsive, fluid-grid framework had some thinking to do. At the time, I offered a deal to all my existing customers in which I would make their website mobile-friendly from just £250. Some will be kicking themselves, because there is no way I could offer the same deal now. Those who took it at the time got a bargain let me tell you!
For those that didn’t take up the offer and still have sites that aren’t mobile friendly have ALL seen a drop in mobile search result positions. Google was true to it’s word and I have seen a noticeable improvement in SERP rankings for the sites that I converted to a responsive framework.
Personally, I was delighted that Google made this change. Not because it meant my services would be even more in demand, but because it stays true to what Google promises webmasters and developers; that GOOD websites are rewarded in the organic search rankings.
I have always been on the ‘white-hat’ side of optimisation. I am loathed to use the phrase Search Engine Optimisation because any white-hat optimiser does not optimise pages for search engines, they optimise them for the user. Therefore as of 2016 I am going to avoid using the term SEO and just stick to optimisation instead (let’s see how long that lasts before I lose my nerve – I use the term SEO as a keyword to help my own site, of course!).
Responsive design is now ‘as standard’ with me, and is the same with all good web developers. Therefore this will be my last post on the mobile-friendly thing, because in 2016, we really shouldn’t even be talking about sites that aren’t mobile friendly, considering that more than 50% of internet users now do so on a mobile device rather than a desktop computer.
So, if you haven’t done already, make sure 2016 is the year that you make your website mobile-friendly. If you don’t, your organic search result will be left behind like 2015.