You're probably already sick to death of hearing about designing ‘responsive’ websites for SEO. For the last few years, everyone has gone mobile optimization mad as more people today are accessing the Internet via mobile devices than ever before.
So, does it really matter? If you would have asked me last month I would have said:
“Hmm, I guess so.”
If you ask me now I would say:
Why the sudden change? Because Google just got real.
On April 21st, 2015, Google launched what is being dubbed as ‘Mobilegeddon’. A new algorithm that is set to change their search engine rankings for mobile users based on how responsive your website is.
You may have seen either a slight increase or decrease in traffic over the past few days as a result, I know I have:
Be it a small sample, since the update I have received around 100 new sessions a day since my website is mobile responsive for SEO. Google has confirmed that the algorithm is not live in all data centers just yet, so I'm hoping to see another jump in traffic very soon.
How Do you find out if your website is mobile responsive?
Thankfully, Google has a few tools on hand to tell you exactly how they feel about your website. First I suggest you take Google’s Mobile-friendly Test. This will rate your website out of a 100 for mobile responsiveness and reveal areas you can improve on. Since Google’s new update determines page responsiveness on a page-by-page basis, I strongly suggest running a check on your most viewed webpages to see how they score.
Next up is Google’s Webmaster Tools (you need an account to login). Head to their Mobile Usability section to see if your website has any mobile errors (or click here). As you can see one of my websites is fine:
However, here’s another website I run which has 15 errors:
Ahh, my website is not responsive – what do I do?
First of all don't worry, I am in the same boat as you for a few of my sites. Your first step should be to run Google’s Mobile-friendly and Mobile Usability tests and fix any problems they've listed. If you're using WordPress, check to see if your theme has been recently updated to be more mobile responsive for SEO.
There’s a very good chance it hasn’t, which leaves you with the following three options:
- Find a new theme that is mobile responsive and start using that (recommended).
- Hire a web designer who can make your website more responsive.
- Do nothing and expect a decrease in traffic and sales (not recommended).
The importance of mobile responsive websites
A Google report stated that 48% of all searches on mobile devices start on search engines. As smart devices continue to get cheaper and more functional, the amount of people accessing the Internet via mobile is only going to rise.
As I spend three quarters of the year in Asia, I already knew mobile devices had surpassed desktop and laptops for Internet browsing. One of my niche sites is a Thailand travel blog where the bulk of my traffic comes from the surrounding countries. I knew having a mobile responsive website was critical to my success and implemented it from the start.
In poorer countries purchasing a $800 laptop is not an option, while buying a $80 smartphone is. If you manage any online businesses that target the emerging markets and have mobile responsive website issues, you need to take action now.
Even in the United States, Australia and United Kingdom more people are accessing the Internet through their mobile devices. Here’s a very interesting graph by Monetate, which shows just how much more people are using mobile devices to purchase in 2014:
Are your websites mobile responsive? If not, what are you going to do about it? I'd also love to know if your websites have seen a spike in traffic due to the recent Google update. Please leave a comment below with any questions or comments you may have.
(Editors note: Another good reason to use a tool like SBI!. You can use one of their built in responsive themes or else use the Mobilize It! functionality to convert your existing site into a mobile friendly version.)