Five months ago, Google rolled out a mobile friendly update that stressed to webmasters the importance of making websites optimized for mobile devices. Perhaps fortunately, this update was not as strictly enforced as originally believed it would be.
However five months is enough time to analyze some data regarding any fluctuations in search engine rankings as a result of the update. A Searchmetrics’ mobile SEO report shows that the number of mobile friendly sites in the first 30 search results increased from April 2015. Although not a significant jump, the move from 68% to 71% in these five months is enough to indicate that the Google update is taking hold and making an impact.
So, the answer to the big question of whether or not you need to optimize your site to mobile is yes — but it looks like you may still have a bit of time before Google cracks down and starts severely punishing sites for not offering this feature.
Why you need it
Whether or not there is a harsher penalty dished out in the coming months for those who aren’t mobile friendly, it is still a good idea to optimize your site for your users. To check whether or not users are visiting your site through a mobile device, look at your site analytics. If you realize that more traffic is coming from mobile devices, don’t panic and frantically make a mobile site without doing a good job. This could decrease your rankings or cause users to run for cover and go elsewhere. Make sure the mobile site looks good, or hire someone else to make it look good!
Keep user experience in mind
UX is the most important point to keep in mind when going mobile friendly. Google has repeatedly emphasized that it is starting to direct it’s ranking factors more so on how user friendly a mobile site is. Some features to keep in mind when making a mobile site include the following:
- Less internal links
- More space between links within text
- Larger font to avoid the need to stretch the screen out
- Less interactive features
- Navigational drop down menus
- Fewer ads and images
What you need to do
For now, there is no need to raise the alarm if you aren’t mobile friendly yet. This is just one study and there is still not enough data to really tell if the update is in full swing.
To those who already have a mobile friendly website, try focusing more on bringing the loading time down. The top 10 mobile friendly sites on a results page have an average loading time of 1.10 seconds. You can also run your site through Google’s nifty mobile-friendly test. However at the end of the day it is all about the user experience when it comes to designing a mobile site. Don’t make us put down our morning coffee to zoom in on a navigation bar!