By: Tamara Weintraub (ReachLocal)
In the past, you may have received visits to your non-mobile website from consumers who were using Google to search for your products or services on their mobile devices.
But now, not having a mobile website can drastically affect how many people visit it from the search results, for a variety of reasons.
First, Google now displays a “mobile-friendly” tag on links for sites that display optimally on a mobile screen. This means that mobile searchers will be more inclined to click links to load pages that they know will work well on the device they are searching from.
Plus, if your site doesn’t have Google’s stamp of approval for mobile, it could perform poorly in mobile organic search results – which experts say Google is now factoring into its mobile search algorithm.
But, thanks to the search results tag, even if your non-mobile site does appear in Google’s mobile organic search results, consumers may skip your site in favor of a mobile-friendly site that probably belongs to your competitor.
This is just one more reason why it’s so important to have a mobile-friendly website.
How Do You Know if Your Site is Mobile-Friendly?
Google has created a set of criteria that you can verify your site against by simply entering its URL into Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test website. If your site doesn’t pass the mobile-friendly test, the tool will tell you which elements of your site need to be updated for mobile users.
In addition, Google is sending warnings to users who verify their site using Webmaster Tools but do not have a mobile-friendly site. The warning lets the website owner know that it may not perform well in mobile search results,and how to fix any issues it encountered.
What Criteria Makes A Site Mobile-Friendly?
A site that’s considered mobile-friendly can be viewed correctly on mobile screens like smartphones and tablets. Displaying correctly includes the automatic sizing of text, images, navigation elements, links, and other important site components so a viewer doesn’t have to zoom or scroll on the page in order to use it effectively. In addition, mobile-friendly sites avoid using software like Flash that limits site functionality on a mobile device.
A Mobile Site or Mobile-Responsive Design?
Because responsive site design adjusts the content to the screen being viewed, there is no need for an additional mobile website, which is best for both SEO and usability. Not only do you have to maintain just a single version of your site, including content, meta-descriptions, and code, but viewers can get the full experience of your site no matter what type of device they’re using. And because search engines like Google only have one site to index, having a responsive website helps improve the accuracy of matching your site to a user’s search query.