If there’s one thing we can count on from Google, it’s that they’ll change their algorithms the moment you get a handle on the last one. The latest rumblings about affected search results surround mobile design and usability. As well they should, since mobile use is projected to overtake desktop and laptop internet usage this year.
Let’s consider some facts before we go any further. According to the latest statistics, 91% of internet users search on their PC or laptop, while 80% search on their phone or tablet. That second number, 80%, is huge. With that many people conducting Google searches on their phones, the search giant wants to make sure the results these users get are relevant, right?
What This All Means
As you might imagine, Google wants to encourage brands to provide excellent mobile experiences. By “encourage,” of course, we mean they now require it. For now, the search results aren’t affected. Instead, those who haven’t concentrated on offering a mobile-friendly site receive an icon that says so on the search results page. This lets users know they won’t have much luck with the site in question if they’re browsing on their phones and tablets.
Now, some brands that haven’t optimized for mobile use can be punished. Sites that generate an error when a user visits through a mobile device will be penalized. Other sites that work correctly and provide an excellent user experience on phones and tablets are given preference in search results, while those that haven’t yet fixed the bugs move further and further down the line. Most often, this affects sites that make use of videos and images that aren’t accessible on phones. If faulty redirects are in play, you’ll have an even bigger problem.
Redirects often happen if a company creates a mobile site from a template instead of using responsive design. Responsive design requires only one site with one design. The code ensures the site is functional no matter what device accesses it. The templates, however, create a second site that’s meant to be mobile friendly. When a user accesses the site via a mobile device, the redirects send them to the mobile template instead of the full site. If that redirect doesn’t work, punishment occurs.
Looking Into Our Crystal Ball
We don’t have to be psychics to tell you where this is going. While Google may not be punishing the less-mobile-friendly sites right now, they’ll most definitely start the spankings soon. Benevolent internet gods that they are, they’re still giving people some time to take care of business.
If you’re one of those brands that really needs to trade in a full site or mobile template site for responsive design, we’re here for you. In the meantime, you can check individual issues on this list and test your site for mobile friendliness.