Be friendly to mobile users if you want to appear on Google.
Over the last 6 months, mobile search results have been an increasing priority for Google. This is part of the long-term trend to mobile usage (Google’s own traffic recently crossed over to be predominantly mobile rather than desktop) and Google’s own attempts to deal better with the conundrums of mobile search with the Hummingbird updates and voice search releases.
They’ve released information into search results showing if a site is mobile friendly (after testing various friendly / unfriendly icons), released more tools into Google Webmaster Tools highlighting mobile issues and although not officially confirmed, there appears to have been an very recent update to search rankings for mobile queries. This trend will continue and expect to see a divergence of mobile / desktop results until websites become more mobile-friendly.
Make no mistake, if your website is not mobile-friendly this year, your visibility in search, traffic and conversions will suffer. This goes beyond purely having a responsive design and moves into usability considerations (speaking of which – one of my main frustrations with mobile sites has always been form-filling on mobile. It’s a pain that needs to go away. Imagine if my mobile could fill in key data and just leave me to press the submit button?).
We have assisted numerous clients over the last 2-3 years with the transition to ranking in a mobile-friendly search world from crawling & indexing to redirects & de-duplication to design input.
My advise? Go mobile, get friendly.
This is Google’s mobile usability list on GWT: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-usability
This is Google’s really helpful primer on responsive web design: https://developers.google.com/web/fundamentals/layouts/rwd-fundamentals/
Author: Jeremy Beckett, Director and SEO Product Lead, Resolution Media Australia