Google Puts the Spotlight on Mobile-Friendly Sites

UPDATE 23/08/16 – Google has since announced that it will be removing the ‘mobile-friendly’ label in mobile SERPs, however the mobile-friendly ranking factor will still continue. Google will also be upping the ante on interstitials from January 2017.

Have you ever clicked through to a website in Google search results on your smartphone, only to find a horrible site that doesn’t render well? The tiny text strains your eyes, the links are too small to tap and the thought of having to scroll sideways to read anything is giving you a headache. Your frustration levels become unbearable and you leave in a heartbeat. #FirstWorldProblem!

Indeed this is a problem, both for the consumer and businesses. Access to the Internet using a mobile phone more than doubled in Great Britain between 2010 and 2014, from 24% to 58% reports the Office for National Statistics.

It’s a similar story for Australia. A whopping 90% of smartphone users down under access the internet via their smartphones on a daily basis, according to research conducted by Our Mobile Planet in 2013.

Take into consideration that this research also revealed that 52% of smartphone owners performed a local search before visiting the website of a business on their smartphones. This means that if your website is not optimised for viewing on mobile devices, the poor user experience is putting you at risk of losing visitors to a competitor’s mobile-friendly website. If that’s not a good enough reason, then a Google update ought to be one!

Introducing mobile-friendly tags

The Big G has announced it will be adding a ‘mobile-friendly’ label to mobile organic search result pages in a bid to help users locate websites that are optimised for mobile. The change is already visible in English across Australia, the UK and US, and will roll out globally to additional languages within the next few weeks. Google is also experimenting with using the mobile-friendly criteria as a ranking signal. The implication being that non mobile-friendly sites risk having their rankings devalued in mobile search So, it’s definitely time to take advantage of mobile’s rapid growth and invest in responsive web design.


Earning the mobile-friendly badge

Your site is eligible for the ‘mobile-friendly’ label if it meets the following criteria as detected by GoogleBot:

  •  Avoids software that is not common on mobile devices, e.g. Flash
  •  Uses text that is readable without zooming
  •  Sizes content to the screen so users don't have to scroll horizontally or zoom
  •  Places links far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily tapped

You can check your website’s pages using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to make sure it qualifies for the badge. A new mobile usability feature in Google Webmaster Tools also allows users to track mobile usability errors and the number of pages affected by each error.

If you’d would like more information about Fresh Egg’s approach to building responsive websites, visit our web design and development page. You can visit on your smartphone, too!

Michelle Wilding works in Fresh Egg’s Sydney office as an Inbound Marketing Manager.