Google Search Algorithm Goes Mobile Friendly

Yesterday was the day we long predicted would come. We advised, reminded and warned restaurants that at some point, Google would no longer merely recommend mobile friendly websites but they would instead demand mobile friendly websites by using search rankings.

As of yesterday, Google’s search algorithm now favors mobile friendly websites over websites that do not adapt to mobile devices. This development tips the scales towards responsive websites, and overnight it creates a divided world in website design of the haves and have-nots. Nearly 50% of Fortune 500 companies do not have responsive websites, so the majority of the internet has been caught unaware. Over the next week, mobile friendly websites should see a boost in rankings at the expense of traditional websites.

With this move by Google, responsive websites became the gold standard for website design. Google carries the vast majority of search traffic, so any web designer would be foolish not to heed these new best practices. Gourmet Marketing switched over to designing solely responsive websites more than 2 years ago as it became clear that they were the future of web design. Despite how dramatic Google’s algorithm change may be, it cannot be called unexpected as now non-desktop traffic makes up almost 30% of website page views.

This change in search rankings has long been in the works. Seeing the growing variety of devices, Google endorsed a type of website design called responsive design. A responsive design is not a separate mobile website but is instead one website for both desktop and mobile that is coded to rearrange the content so it is easily viewable on all devices. Depending on the device, images become smaller or bigger and text reformats to screen width.

A responsive design makes navigating a website on a mobile device much more natural compared to the mobile user experience on a traditional webpage. A responsive design means no excess zooming in or out and no small unreadable text. Google prefers this style over a separate mobile website because with a responsive website, there is only one website and therefore, there are no differences in content (making ranking the website more straightforward).

Google provided some resources for people unsure if their website is mobile friendly or not. Google has a site with pointers about mobile websites: https://developers.google.com/webmasters/mobile-sites/

In addition, Google lets a person test a website to determine if the website fits Google’s specifications for mobile friendly: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/

For those with non-responsive websites, it is the time to update your website to the latest best practices in web design or fall behind your competitors.