When Google says jump many people ask how high? So when the Mountain View search giant announced today that it would start flagging up mobile friendly websites in the SERPS this was a sign of just how serious it is to have a mobile first theme.
Looking at the Analytics stats for one of my busiest sites mobile devices account for over 25% of the traffic. The content was not written specifically for a mobile audience nor does the website cater for such devices, so to know that a quarter of users are already consuming that media in such a manner is important.
Furthermore, the target demographic of that particular website are of an older generation and are supposedly less likely to be tech savvy. So this either means that are more technical than expected or that the audience age is far broader than anticipated (Universal Analytics is not installed because it’s a Drupal6 site and there is no contributed module available for UA)
So How High Do We Jump?
The interesting thing about mobile devices is that they do not necessarily need to be “mobile” so iPads and tablets on the wifi at home can count for a large proportion of the so-called mobile audience. This means that media is being viewed by what is typically a desktop consumer.
And if Google crawls your website and finds that it is not mobile friendly then can you risk not having that flag on your search results? What if your competitors’ offerings are already consumable on mobile devices – can you take the chance that they will beat you in the SERPs and potentially eat into your traffic?
The answer should be no, so if we have to jump then how high?
Already Google is being very open about what constitutes a mobile friendly website and what tools to check against these benchmarks. So the first and most obvious issue is do you have to scroll or zoom to read the text? Are the links too small or too close together?
If you don’t already know these answers, just from your own innate intimacy with your website, then you can run it through Google’s mobile friendly test page. There’s also a pretty basic Webmasters’ “guide” to going mobile friendly so your work should be cut out for you, especially if you’re a small business running an enterprise level site.
To Be or Not to Be – That is the Question
I do have concerns that corporate websites will be the ones that will have the budget and resources to go mobile, if they haven’t done so already, which gives them a distinct advantage over the little guys. Competitive SMEs will now need to find some capital to invest in making sure they remain competitive which means that some firms could miss out. But then can an organisation afford to slip out of the search engine results pages if they do not skip to Google’s new tune?
I think being mobile friendly is an absolute must if you want your website to be seen by as big an audience as possible, after all, designers have always strived for their work to be seen on on current and deprecated browser versions, using accessibility and usability to be able to reach all users. So this should come as no surprise that Google seems to want websites to be seriously mobile-friendly.