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Google’s Mobile Friendly Update

‘Mobile-Friendliness’ Is Now A Ranking Signal.

Google recently announced, websites that are ‘mobile-friendly’ will rank higher than sites which are not; all other factors being equal. The number of people using smart mobile phones to access the Internet has increased rapidly in the last 2 years but many websites are not designed to be viewed on small screen devices. Google’s update now makes it easier for users to view relevant mobile friendly content by increasing the number of mobile-friendly websites in search results derived from mobile phones.

The update only effects search results from mobile phones, not from tablets, laptops or personal computers.

Google’s algorithm checks to see if a website page is configured properly and easy to use on mobile phones when indexing the web page. Website pages that are designed for large screen sizes only, may soon see significant decrease in ranking in Google’s mobile search results.

The following is a list of frequently asked questions about mobile websites:

Questions Asked About Mobile Sites

What Is A Mobile Site?

A mobile site is a separate website to your main website, with a different URL.

The server your website is hosted on detects that a visitor is using a mobile phone and redirects them to your mobile-optimised site. Many website designers use a sub-domain format like mobile.domain.com.au that contains the separate website. Only people using mobile phones with screen sizes below a ‘media-format’ trigger will see the mobile friendly version. If a device is used above the trigger size, the main site will be seen instead.

In summary there are 2 website URL’s, one is to be used if the web page is viewed on a mobile phone and one if a website page is viewed on any other device. Having 2 URL’s is not an ideal situation from a seo perspective, and does not take other small screen devices into account such as ipad-mini and ‘note’ versions of tablets, that are bigger than mobile phones yet much smaller than tablets.

The solution is to have a ‘responsive website’ built instead.

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What is a Responsive Site?

A responsive website uses responsive web design techniques that allows one single URL to be seen regardless of the screen size, or device used. Breakpoints are pre-defined to display a website page layout depending on the screen size being used.

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Why Build a Responsive Site?

Top 5 reasons to build a responsive site over a mobile site:

  1. As explained above, Google Search results displayed when visitors are using a mobile phone take into account whether the website is mobile-responsive as a ranking signal. Responsive design adapts to any screen size, so no changes are required to the HTML code when a new model of a device comes out; with a different screen size.
  2. More people are using mobile devices to search the Internet than personal computers, so it makes sense to create a user friendly environment for visitors using mobile phones and tablets of all makes, models and sizes.
  3. Responsive website design takes into account the orientation of the screen; portrait or landscape.
  4. Responsive design sites, being one URL, load faster because there is no redirect to the mobile site, when mobile phones are used.
  5. Content can be selectively displayed and manipulated, depending on the device used, to give visitors the best experience for the device they are using.

As explained above, Google Search results displayed when visitors are using a mobile phone take into account whether the website is mobile-responsive. Linking, especially backlinks from other sites are handled easier when there is just one page URL. Mobile phone screens are becoming larger, to make it easier to view content from the world wide web. Responsive design adapts to any screen size, so no changes are required to the HTML code when a new model of a device comes out; with a different screen size.

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Does Thinking IT Build Responsive Sites?

Yes, we do. In fact we only build responsive websites, using the latest HTML5 coding standards with CSS3.

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Summary

In summary, responsive website design is important. With Google Search algorithm using mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal and the amount of visitors to websites from mobile phones increasing all the time, it makes sense to have a mobile-responsive website design.