Google and SEO

Mobile-Friendliness Rewarded

Google and SEO

Accounting for 3 of every 4 searches in the U.S. today, Google is the undisputed leader in search traffic. Since it began its reign as the dominant global search engine, Google has continued to reaffirm its role as one of the most influential companies on the web. However, providing results for such a large percentage of searches solidifies Google as driving force behind much of the behavior in today’s digital landscape. This role comes with a great responsibility, and it is one that Google takes very seriously. With that responsibility in mind, Google is slow to make major updates to their secretive ranking algorithms, and only makes changes based on long-term and well research web predictions.

While Google’s recent webmaster press release announcing that it will be updating it’s algorithm so that the mobile-friendliness of a website plays a much larger role in determining its search ranking came as no surprise, it does demonstrate that the search giant views responsive design as the pinnacle of web design methodologies, and the solution to a growing demand from users. Google has been a proponent of Responsive Web Design for years, going so far as naming responsive design as Google’s recommendation for an SEO friendly website, but this update removes any uncertainty about Google’s long-term recommendation of Responsive Web Design as the best way to ensure success with both your users and your search engine rankings.

Google has recently announced that starting towards the end of April 2015, the mobile-friendliness of a website will have it’s ranking factor increased, becoming one of the most important SEO factors a website owner can control. In this statement, Google announced that “Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results.” To assist website owners in determining if their website’s SEO will be negatively impacted by this update, Google has released a Mobile-Friendly Testing Tool.

For any organization that values organic traffic, or high AdWords quality scores, mobile-friendliness is no longer suggested, it is required. With recent findings that mobile searches have reached 30% of total traffic across industries, and with some industries receiving over 50% of their traffic from mobile devices, this move by Google is a direct response to consumer web behaviors.

One very important factor to remember is that webmasters and website owners are not Google’s primary target audience when it comes to search. This notion is often counterintuitive, because website owners are the ones paying hefty sums to dominate the top slots on Google’s search listings, but it is an important fact to remember. Google’s popularity, and therefore success, is directly correlated with its ability to provide the most relevant results to search queries. This distinction is what drives its use, which in turn drives it’s popularity for advertising.

Although it makes sense when broken down, website owners often assume that since they are the paying customers, their needs will take priority. Moves by Google such as this mobile-friendliness update only reinforce that this is not the case, and that the needs of searchers will always drive the nuances of their ranking algorithms. Any website owner stubborn enough to dig in their heels will have nothing to show for it but an increased cost of doing business and a loss of hard earned traffic.

The good news is that those organizations smart enough to take Google’s not-so-subtle hints will reap the rewards. At Aktiv, we have been producing responsive websites since the inception of Responsive Web Design. From banking to consumer products, our ability and experience working with mobile-friendly websites can help you take advantage of the rankings that your competition will be leaving wide open in the upcoming update. If you would like to discuss redesigning your website to be mobile-friendly using responsive web design, we’d be more than happy to tell you more about responsive design. Just shoot us an email, we look forward to learning more about your project.

by: Chris Kosiba

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