What is a mobile friendly website and why should you care? In February of this year, Google announced that starting in April they are going use “mobile device friendliness” as a new variable in their search ranking algorithm.
If you care about how your website comes up in a Google search, then you should know what this update means for your website, and what you can do to fix it. Mobile friendly, or responsive, websites are designed to provide an optimal viewing experience across screens of various sizes.
Several years ago, in order to have a site display well on mobile devices, people built separate sites altogether, or they used plugins to create separate, mobile versions of their website. This was not optimal for many reasons.
One, it created issues for site owners who had to provide multiple versions of their site, and then keep them all updated. This method also causes issues with duplicate content, which is a problem for Google since each site looks like a separate site, and then which version gets the ranking?
Today, technology allows us to create one website that uses proportional grid designs, flexible images, CSS3 media queries and other coding tricks to display different layouts of a website as the size of the site changes from desktop to tablet, and all the way down to the size of a smart phone. You can check to see if your site is responsive by how it performs on your phone.
If it is responsive you won’t need to pinch the text or scroll from side to side to have the content visible and readable. A responsive website design will typically present the content of the site in a single column with the headers and images resizing automatically to fit the size of the display. Often you won’t see the entire menu unless you select what is called the hamburger icon.
To get a definitive answer as to whether Google sees your entire site as responsive, run your url in the Google Webmaster tools Mobile Friendly Checker.
Since Google will be determining the ranking of your site, this way you can confirm that your site will pass their test. If your site was not created in the last couple of years, there is a high probability that it is not mobile responsive and that you will have to bring it up to speed. But you should want to do that anyway given that over 55% of people are accessing websites on their mobile devices.
Since that number is predicted to increase, as time goes on, it is important that your website be able to adapt to any screen size, now and in the future. So what can you do if your site does not pass the test? Most newer themes come enabled with responsive code. If your site design is starting to look dated, you may want to change the design of your site and add responsive code with a new theme.
If you are happy with the look of your website you, or your web designer, can make your existing site responsive by adding code to your CSS file. Here is a post by Colorlabs showing how they changed the CSS to make the WordPress default Twenty Ten theme responsive. If you want to have your website suit up and show up on mobile devices, contact us at New Tricks and we will help you decide on the best course of action.