Google announced it is making two significant changes to its search algorithm for ranking the mobile search results.
Google will be using mobile-friendly factors in its mobile search results starting on April 21, 2015, and it will rank mobile apps participating in App Indexing for signed-in users better in the mobile search results starting today.
Google said that on April 21, 2015, Google’s mobile ranking factors will not only label your site as mobile-friendly, but will also use that to determine if your site should rank higher in the search results. Google said this algorithmic change will have a “significant impact” in the mobile search results, impacting all languages worldwide.
Google also said “users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.”
Why not now? Google said it wants sites to prepare; so, you have a few months to get your websites mobile-friendly. Google told us it had been experimenting with mobile ranking factors recently, and now it is here.
Mobile Apps That Google Indexes To Rank Better In Mobile Search
Google further said that starting right now, apps that are indexed by Google through App Indexing will begin to rank better in mobile search. Google said this only will work for signed-in users who have the app installed on their mobile devices, which means only Android apps today. Google explained this “may now surface content from indexed apps more prominently in search.”
To learn more about how to get your apps indexed by Google, see this help area. To keep up with the latest tips and advice since this article was written, see our What Is Mobilegeddon & The Google Mobile Friendly Update page.
Choose Your Mobile Optimization Approach
If any of your content isn't optimized for mobile, it's really important that you make some changes in light of the new algorithm. Even the best landing page in the world can notice drastically diminishing returns if it's not optimized for mobile.
To remedy the situation you have options. Google recognizes three different configurations as “mobile friendly.” You can move your content to any of the following set-ups and be protected from the change.
1) Responsive Design
Responsive design is Google’s #1 recommended design pattern. The reason responsive design is so desireable is that it doesn't create two copies of the same site. Viewers only have one URL to go to and the website will adapt as they move from phone to tablet to desktop and beyond.
2) Dynamic Serving
Like responsive design, a dynamic serving approach keeps the same URL — but this time, the HTML actually changes. Dynamic serving uses user-agents to “sniff” out what kind of device the viewer is using and then dynamically serves up the appropriate view.
Google notes that this user-agent detection can be an error-prone technique, but it is an option that passes the Google mobile-optimization test.
3) Mobile Website
Creating a separate mobile website was one of the earliest versions of mobile optimization, and it still works for Google's requirements. Upon a new user arriving, this configuration tries to detect the users’ device, then redirects to the appropriate website using redirects.
The reason this method isn't as recommended as responsive design is it requires you to maintain — and Google to crawl — two versions of your content. In addition, it can be a a disruptive experience for someone who accidentally clicks on the mobile link, possibly shared through social or email, while on a desktop computer.
Why Is Responsive Design the Best Choice?
TH Web Consulting uses responsive design, and builds all of our client's sites on responsive design so our bias is clear, but there are lots of reasons responsive makes sense as the best way to optimize your site right now.
Website visitors like it.
From a visitor's standpoint, responsive is pretty seamless. It's the same URL (address) and the same content, it just adapts (responds) and gets re-proportioned based on the viewer (screen size). That means if you email yourself a link from your phone and then reopen it on your desktop, it's going to be a consistent experience either way.
Google likes it.
From Google's standpoint, there are a few things responsive does really well. For starters, it saves resources when Googlebot crawls your site. Rather than crawling multiple sites, the Googlebot can go to one place which increases efficiency and helps Google index more content. It also helps Google's algorithms more accurately assign indexing properties to a piece of content without needing to check two places.
Marketers and website owners like it.
A responsive site requires less time to maintain because you don't have multiple pages for the same content. It also requires no redirection of users based to other URLs based on their device, which speeds up the load time of your website — and faster sites lead to more conversions.
Google's List of Common Mistakes
In addition to the mobile-optimization tool, Google has also put together a list of common mistakes to avoid in optimizing your site for mobile devices and the algorithm change. These mistakes include using flash video and other unplayable content types on mobile as well as having a slow mobile site.
In Closing you can see what the obvious choice is…
RESPONSIVE WEB DESIGN is the only way to truly take advantage of Google's new Algorithm change in regards to “mobile traffic”. If you have been paying attention to statisitcs you will see that mobile devices have passed laptops and pcs for usability in accessing the internet for searching and shopping. If your site is not built to take advantage of responsive website traffic then you really cannot complain when your traffic dries up and your business fails.
Save yourself a “DOH” moment and make sure your business can stay up to date and competitive. You do not want to find yourself wondering why your site has disappeared from the search results, DO YOU?