Google is constantly trying to provide a better search experience for users and its new “mobile-friendly” label signals a shift in Google’s focus for 2015. It’s great news for users, who will now be able to see which sites are mobile-friendly in the search results at a glance; no more clicking on a website only to discover that it’s not really compatible or easy to use with the mobile device they’re using. For businesses however, this is not something to be taken lightly as whether or not the mobile-friendly label is achieved could make quite an impact.
What does mobile-friendly mean?
Firstly and most obviously it refers to whether or not the site in question is friendly to mobile devices. This doesn’t just mean that the website shows up but it asks the question ‘Does it provide a good and straightforward experience for users looking at it on a mobile device?’
To meet Google’s standards of mobile-friendly, a website must fit the following criteria. It must:
- Avoid making use of software which can’t be used on mobile devices – such as Flash, for instance.
- Have content and text which can be used without having to zoom in to see it, or scroll horizontally to access it.
- Have any links on the page far enough apart that they can be easily tapped.
To put it another way, the usability of the design of the website must be able to adapt to each mobile device’s capabilities. The menu must be clear and easy to use, the website copy and images must re-size in line with the screen size, the font must be easy to read.
Why does mobile-friendly matter?
Whether or not a site has the mobile-friendly label is likely to affect its search engine rankings on mobile devices – Google will prioritise mobile friendly sites which provide a better user experience, and these sites are likely to achieve better CTR (click-through-rates) than poorly optimised or non-optimised sites.
Mobile searches are on the increase and are becoming preferential to desktop searches. If a business doesn’t have a mobile-friendly label and its competitors do it’s likely that it will find that most mobile users start to skim past it. Equally, if a business has a mobile-friendly site while most of its competitors don’t, it may be a brilliant chance to increase its click through traffic. Either way it’s a big deal.
In terms of SEO, if a website doesn’t meet Google’s mobile-friendly criteria, an email may be sent warning that it might not rank as highly in mobile search results. Google has recently confirmed that it is experimenting with using the mobile-friendly label as a ranking signal. It’s looking more and more likely that if a website isn’t mobile-friendly it may be harmful to rankings.
In effect, it is worth making sure that a business’s website is mobile-friendly, and not worth taking the risk of not making it compatible with mobile devices.
How can mobile-friendly become a reality?
If you don’t know already, it would be a good idea to check whether or not your website complies with Google’s mobile-friendly requirements. Google themselves have made a Mobile-Friendly Test available here.