It’s official: Google has launched a “mobile-friendly” tag that will appear alongside mobile search results. Now, this isn’t exactly surprising for online marketing professionals — it has been known for a while now that Google devalues or penalizes websites that are not mobile responsive when searchers are using a mobile device.
But what exactly does this mean for business owners?
Simply put, it means mobile responsivity is more important than ever before when it comes to SEO.
Why Does This Tag Really Matter?
I have heard from some clients that they don’t understand why this tag matters. To them they are getting penalized anyway, so what is the big deal?
The big deal is that the average searcher does not know that you are being penalized for non-mobile — and truth is, in some sectors that penalty is actually minor, maybe only dropping a result from 2 to 4. The big impact lies in the fact that by not having the tag, Google is basically telling searchers, “Hey, don’t visit this website. You will have a bad experience. ” Essentially, you can think of it as the scarlet letter of online marketing. The reality is that if Google displays this tag next to your website in the search results you can expect a large decrease in clicks.
What is Google Looking At
There has been talk of something that would notify searchers if a site was mobile or not for some time. It looks like Google finally determined what criteria they were going to use. According to Google, Googlebot is grading each site for mobile friendliness based on the following criteria:
Whether it avoids software that is not common on mobile devices, such as Flash
Whether text is readable without zooming
Whether content is sized to the screen (so users don’t have to scroll horizontally or zoom)
Whether links are placed far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily tapped
It is interesting to note that Google is not simply looking at responsiveness, but is also looking at software and user-experience factors as well. That said, I personally believe that the biggest factor in the overall equation will be if a website is mobile responsive or not.
How To Find Out If Google Likes Your Site
The good news is that any webmaster can quickly determine if their website is being seen as “mobile-friendly” by Google or not by using the new “Mobile-Friendly Test Tool”.
This simple to use tool allows you to enter your URL and see what Google sees. Here are the results for LiftDivision.com:
Clearly, the goal is to get the “Awesome! This page is mobile-friendly.” response. However, what’s so great about this tool is that if the page is not mobile-friendly, it will help to identify why. I suggest that every webmaster go ahead and check their website — after all, it only takes a few seconds and could end up providing some useful diagnostic information about your website’s overall SEO.
So What’s The Big Deal With Mobile Anyway
For a lot of business owners and webmasters this update is going to be a huge headache. It is going to force many to make big updates to their websites or build out totally new ones. It is going to cost resources for a lot of businesses.
But this isn’t a Google issue. It is a people issue. Since 2013, statistics have shown that mobile search is expected to surpass desktop search by 2015 — and the reality is that users are driving this change to mobile. As more and more of us search from phones and tablets, search engines have been forced to make sure they are providing the best experience. We really are the ones driving this change.
Get On Board
Let’s face it, we live in a mobile world. We search, shop, browse, read and consume from our phones and tablets. And many of those actions start with a visit to Google. For businesses and websites that not only want to rank well, but also provide a great user experience, mobile responsiveness is a must. Find out if your website is mobile-friendly and if not take the steps needed to make it so. Not only will you make Google happy, but your visitors will appreciate it as well.