Arguably one of Google’s most significant algorithm changes in years will be rolled out on April 21st. This new algorithm will use a site’s “mobile friendliness” and app indexing as ranking factors. These ranking factors will not only label sites as mobile-friendly, but will also use that to determine if sites should rank higher in the search results.What does this mean to you? It means that, if your website isn’t a responsive site, optimized for mobile –friendly use, your organic ranking and traffic will likely take a hit.

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Why the change?

Why is Google so invested in your site being mobile friendly that it’s going to all that trouble to change its algorithm? Ostensibly, it’s because Google wants users to be able to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for mobile devices and tablets. But there’s another reason: More and more users are accessing the web through devices rather than desktops, yet Google doesn’t get the clicks—or ad rates—on mobile devices that it does on desktops. That’s because mobile consumers tend to do more scanning while desktop users do more clicking. This needs to change, so Google is going with the idea that mobile friendly results and responsive Web sites will change this behavior. It also needs to get the content in apps to the surface so the data can be indexed.

Regardless, you need a responsive, mobile-friendly site

Aside from Google’s impending algorithm changes, having a mobile friendly website is something every businesses should do to stay up to date with today’s consumer—especially businesses that target Millennials and other consumers who are mobile-focused . With the astronomical growth in mobile users who expect fast, efficient access to information on their phones and tablets, your site needs to be optimized for those devices. So, regardless of what Google is doing, it is a smart move to have a responsive website.

Responsive design: The path to going mobile friendly

There are several ways to make your website mobile friendly. The most effective and efficient approach is to build your company’s website once and only once—using responsive design. In the past, this issue was tackled in less efficient ways, such as building a separate website or using a mobile template where the user saw a different version of the same website when viewing on a mobile device. These approaches tended to create more work, among other issues.

So, what exactly is responsive design? Before mobile devices and tablets came along, websites were solely built to “fit on” laptop and desktop screens. That won’t work anymore; there are simply too many devices out there to build a site to fit each one. Responsive design allows the designer to create a design using one single set of code that works across multiple screen resolutions—desktops, laptops, phones, and tablets of any size.

Unless you’re a web developer, you don’t necessarily need to know the nuts and bolts, but as a business owner or marketing director, what is important is that your website is user friendly, which means it can be used by anyone using any device. The smart path to a positive user experience across the board is a website built using responsive design.

Next steps

Now that you know how important it is to have a responsive, mobile-friendly website, how do you go about it? Here are a few tips:

  • Review Google’s Mobile Guidelines.
  • Use the Google Mobile-Friendly Test tool to determine if your current website is mobile friendly.
  • Use the Google Page Speed Insights tool to determine areas of your site in need of help.
  • Google’s new algorithm will update results in real time, so as you make a web page mobile friendly, your search result will get the mobile friendly tag.
  • Google’s mobile-friendly tags will appear on the PAGE level. Individual pages will be graded, rather than the entire domain, so make all of your landing pages mobile friendly.

Most importantly: April 21st is here, but don’t let that scare you. An experienced web design company can help you get your site mobile friendly, and before you know it, your new, responsive website can be up and running and back in the rankings