Last month saw the roll-out of Google’s “Mobile Friendly” tag for searches initiated on smartphones and other mobile devices. Now, when someone searches for something, like “princeton web design” on their smartphone, results will show a “Mobile Friendly” label in front of the site description. It is part of an emphasis that Google is placing on improving user experience of websites on mobile devices.
Why would Google care about whether your website is mobile friendly? Well, part of what Google, and any other search engine for that matter, is trying to deliver to their users are “quality” search results. Now, while relevance of a site for certain search terms and the number of “inbound links” from other sources are obvious indicators, the importance of user experience may be overlooked. However, once you’ve personally had the experience of visiting non-mobile optimized sites on your iPhone or Android phone, you quickly learn the value of those sites who present content that is readable and easy to navigate without a bunch of pinching and zooming or trying to press tiny links with fat fingers.
Google understands this too, and they want to maintain their market share by offering their visitors the best search experience, which is ultimately determined by the sites their visitors click on. So, it seems pretty obvious to me that we will see further emphasis on mobile friendly websites in Google search results in the future.
How do you make your website mobile friendly? In addition to Google’s developer website lined above, Google offers a mobile friendly test tool which will help identify issues with your current site. Depending on the age of your current site and whether it was developed on a common Content Management System (CMS) such as WordPress or Drupal, there are several options to achieve a mobile friendly layout:
- If your site runs on a CMS, see if a mobile layout plugin or module exists that can provide an alternative mobile site or theme to certain devices. For example, WordPress has the WPTouch plugin which serves the site through an alternative, mobile theme.
- Develop an alternative site to which you direct mobile traffic. While this might potentially offer the best interface, it may be costly to build and maintain.
- Sites that are relatively new, but not necessarily mobile friendly, might be retrofitted with HTML changes and a new CSS3 stylesheet. This would achieve a “responsive design” that resizes content to fit the smaller screens of mobile and tablet devices.
- Redesign the site using “responsive design” techniques, probably best realized using an existing “responsive design” framework. For example, Inforest Communications typically uses Bootstrap, although we have also used 960 Grid System and others as a starting point.
Now is time to get ahead of the Google Mobile Friendly curve!
Need further help evaluating your current site for mobile and determining where to go next? Contact Inforest Communications for a free site evaluation using the form below. We’ll help you determine the relative costs and opportunities to achieve a mobile friendly site based on your current site layout and your other objectives.
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