Small businesses need to embrace responsive design for their websites or some other methodology that allows them to field a full featured mobile friendly website that is easy to manage. Hopefully by now I no longer have to explain why a mobile friendly website is important. Hopefully by now you understand why a quality user experience for your customers should be important to you.
Recently, Google lobbed another grenade in to the mobile vs. desktop debate. One that I think will probably cement responsive design’s long term legacy in one development. If it hasn’t already been done.
A little over a year and a half ago, Google announced that on mobile searches they would prioritize mobile friendly sites in search results. The rationale for this is undeniable. Over 60% of all search traffic is mobile. Combine that with the frustration users have when accessing a site that isn’t mobile friendly, then showing mobile users more results that are mobile friendly just makes sense.
But one of the things that most people not actively involved in SEO didn’t realize is that it isn’t the mobile site that was actually being graded for purposes of search results. It’s still the desktop site.
This means that content that may not be displayed in mobile or functionality that isn’t available on mobile is dictating the results that are being displayed. This also leads to a less than optimal user experience. Now Google is acknowledging that they may look to affect that experience.
The recent announcement acknowledges this fact. Let me summarize the announcement. As the volume of mobile search increases, the content of the mobile site becomes more important to the user experience. Google is now testing using the mobile site instead of the desktop site as the basis for search ranking.
If this test goes in to effect, site content becomes very linear. At their end, it really makes it much easier for Google to look at content and say this is more important than that. The vertical scroll of the mobile site basically becomes a priority list. News sites that jam a ton of content on their sites, 3 and 4 columns wide could see some of this content diminish in search value. Sites that have chosen to simply put up a limited mobile friendly version of their site with a detect and redirect solution, they face a very serious reality. Everything that drives people to their website in the majority of searches could go away.
For businesses utilizing a responsive design where the content simply adapts for the device the site is being displayed on, this impact will be much less dramatic. The content is already there. Luckily this is the method used by most small businesses. But for those that still haven’t made the jump to any sort of mobile friendly solution, a real problem lies ahead.