Tuesday April 21, 2015 – that’s tomorrow – is a date that will mark a milestone of sorts for any business with a website on the public world wide web.
It’s the day when a company like Legal and General Group will start to see its ranking in Google search results begin to be influenced by how friendly its website is when viewed on a mobile device rather than on a desktop or laptop computer.
Unfortunately for Legal and General, their website is not very friendly at all. Here’s what it looks like on my Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone running the Android operating system:
It’s the regular desktop website formatted for how it would appear when you visit on a desktop computer and interact with a mouse, but squeezed into the small screen of a smartphone where taps and swipes with fingers rule the roost, not clicks with a mouse. And note you’re seeing a screenshot that shows the website considerably larger than actual size on the smartphone screen.
It’s not a good experience on my phone or on an iPhone or iPad; indeed, on any contemporary mobile device, all of which are increasing in use and have already overtaken the use of PCs.
Legal and General is the first company in the FTSE 100 that I picked at random to look at its website on my mobile device. Others, too, that are not yet mobile-friendly – Intercontinental Hotels Group and BHP Billiton, to name just two more.
What will start to happen now to companies like these is that when someone searches for them on a mobile device, the search results will decrease if your website is not mobile friendly.
Google search results have already begun indicating if a particular site is mobile friendly or not, as this screenshot shows for my website:
Google recognises my site as mobile friendly – note the phrase “mobile-friendly” that I’ve highlighted in the screenshot. It has been mobile friendly for well over four years.
Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.
The bold is my emphasis.
It really is extraordinary that any business with a website hasn’t paid attention to a huge trend that’s been gathering momentum for some years now – the growth of the mobile internet and the eclipse of the desktop.
Some – many – of the FTSE 100 are ready for mobile. The first company I found that is, is Antofagasta, a Chile-based copper mining company which also has the “mobile-friendly” label against its name in a Google mobile search.
It’s not too late to get your website seen as mobile-friendly by Google when anyone searches for you on a mobile device. Google has free tools you can use, starting with its Mobile-Friendly Test Tool that will analyse your site and tell you in some detail whether it’s mobile-friendly or not. If not, it will give you useful insights and guidance on what to do about it.
If your website runs any recent version of the WordPress content management system, you have the opportunity to get your site mobile friendly very quickly via responsive design themes readily available for the platform, many available at no cost.
While the deadline is tomorrow, it doesn’t mean the sky will suddenly and immediately fall in when someone finds your mobile-unfriendly website in a Google mobile search. But it looks quite clear that Google will penalize you over time, so making your website mobile-friendly just seems like good sense.
You can avoid #Mobilegeddon!
- Google Says Make Your Site Mobile-Friendly By April 21 – Or Drop In Search Results by Dan York. Also, listen to Dan’s podcast on the subject.
- Google’s Get Started Guide to mobile-friendly websites.
- Google Algorithm Will Soon Reward Mobile-Friendly Sites: Here’s What You Need to Know by HubSpot.
- The Advanced SEO’s Guide To Mobilegeddon by Search Engine Land.