Mobile-Friendly Design Is Becoming Google-Friendly

Mobile-friendly website design is the newest issue webmasters should consider when getting their website up and running. Updated Webmaster Tools and website rendering suggest Google is placing more and more focus on the user-friendliness of mobile sites to match the increasing use of smartphones and the mobile Internet. Are mobile-friendly designs becoming necessary for strong Google rankings?

Google’s Mobile-Friendly Updates

Google includes mobile usability reports to Google Webmaster Tools. The tool will reveal typical usability errors that arise on mobile devices. This includes things like Flash warnings, unreadable fonts, navigation issues and viewport problems. The addition to Webmaster Tools came after updates to the Fetch as Googlebot tool that made it possible for users to see how Googlebot rendered pages in their entirety. That tool displays the website both in desktop mode and in mobile samples. Googlebots are also at the point where they account for differing screen sizes and specifications of mobile devices.

The Google Webmaster updates make it easier for owners to maintain a mobile-friendly site.

The Future of Mobile Ranking

What does this mean for the future of mobile-friendly sites on Google? Some wonder if this is Google’s warning before mobile usability become a ranking signal. In the past, when Google focused on issues such as HTTPS, it announced a change in ranking signals not long afterward.

This isn’t the first clue of Google’s interest in mobile-friendliness, either. In 2013, Google instituted consequences for sites that generated errors for users searching on mobile devices. It was limited to ranking based on whether a site loaded correctly. A future change would determine if it offers a good experience for users, much like the ranking requirements for desktop searches.

How likely is this to become a ranking signal? In 2013, smartphone penetration rose up to 56% in the United States. More and more, mobile internet becomes the most convenient way to surf the World Wide Web. This increases the pressure on search engines like Google to satisfy mobile users.

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Designing for Mobile Devices

There are a few different ways to set up a mobile site. However, Google favors responsive web designs. Responsive web designs use one URL. They’re quick-loading, and they are altered based on resolution so that there are no device glitches. Media queries go out and the website display settings adjust accordingly.

Responsive sites offer more simplicity in SEO. The optimization applies to the entire site, whether it’s loading on a desktop computer or a smartphone. Pages load quicker, too, because it lacks the redirection necessary for separate mobile websites.

Note that larger or more well-established websites may fare better by creating a separate mobile site. These use another domain with another layout. The URL commonly includes the ‘m’ for mobile:

It’s always important for site owners to keep up with ever-changing updates and ranking signals so they know what expertise to look for in developers. Mobile-friendly websites are the newest area to consider.

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