Over the last few years, we kept on hearing experts say “You have to make your website mobile-friendly!

And in response, we heard business owners say “Sure, it would be nice if my website shows up pretty on a smart phone. But it’s not on the top of my priority list. My website can still be viewed on a smart phone” – and if this sounds like you, then you’re not alone.

But the time has come to get really serious about this “mobile-friendly” issue. And it needs to be taken care of fast!

Why…? Because of the upcoming Google algorithm change.

Next Big Google Change – What Does This Mean?

In February this year, Google announced the change they will be making to the way they display their search results. Come April 21, 2015, they will be using “mobile-friendliness” as one of the big factors in determining the search engine rankings of each site. If you are a Google Webmaster Tools user, then you also might have received an email from Google similar to this:

Google systems have tested pages from your site and found that they have critical mobile usability errors. The errors on these pages severely affect how mobile users are able to experience your website. These pages will not be seen as mobile-friendly by Google Search, and will therefore be displayed and ranked appropriately for smartphone users.”

When people do a Google search with a keyword/phrase, your non-mobile-friendly site might be showing up on the first page now. But as of April 21, when searched on mobile devices, your ranking will get surpassed by other mobile-friendly sites. And the impact could be significant, considering the statistics showing that people are spending more time on mobile devices than desktop computers to access the Internet.

Google is already marking mobile-friendly sites as such in the mobile search results.

How Do I Know If My Website is Mobile-Friendly?

To see if your site is considered mobile-friendly, simply search for your site on a mobile device to see if your site comes up with a label, “Mobile-friendly.”

Google also provides a Mobile-Friendly Test page at: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/

 

What To Do Next?

If your website doesn’t pass the Google Mobile-Friendly test, then there are a number of things you can do, but to determine the most appropriate (and cost-effective) you need to understand what you have to work with.

  1. If your site is HTML (as most sites still are) you don’t necessarily need a while new site. There are a number of solutions that can be implemented (such as redirecting mobile traffic to a compatible page, or adding special code to your existing site), however the average business owner will require specialist assistance.
  2. If your site is based on the popular WordPress platform, then the solution may be as simple as installing a special plugin to make your website mobile friendly. There are a number of great plugins available including free solutions such as WPtouch or Jetpack. Should these fail you, it is also possible to switch to a ‘responsive’ theme. In either case a little tweaking may be required, but you will save significant effort by not having to re-import all your pages, content and media.
  3. Twitter Bootstrap is also a very popular framework, and has been designed to be mobile friendly out of the box since Bootstrap 3 (released in 2013). If you’re on a previous version, then it’s definitely time to upgrade!
  4. If you used an online website builder such as wix, shopify or squarespace you should find that these platforms now provide a mobile site builder (and have done for some time!). If your site was built prior, then it will definitely pay to revisit your account to not only create a mobile site, but also update your content for relevance, and make it more visually appealing with a contemporary theme.

And of course, if you have no idea of what you’ve got or where to start looking, feel free to give the team at Business Wise a call.

Tony Muller
Chief Technology Officer
Tony has business management and information technology experience gained in the public and private sectors. He has worked with the Queensland Government Chief Procurement Office on IT tenders, and is also an Australian Institute of Management graduate.

Tony is passionate about how technology can facilitate business operations, and is always looking for innovative solutions to business requirements.