Google announced a significant change in how websites will be listed — or won’t be listed — in their search results.
Google says they will only use the mobile version of your website for their search results and will no longer take into account the desktop version.
A few clients have contacted me worried that their websites will disappear entirely from Google, because they don’t have mobile-friendly versions.
From my research, this isn’t likely to be true for most websites. You probably don’t have to worry that your website will be dropped from Google’s search results. But Google’s changes will affect how your website will be ranked.
If you don’t have a mobile version of your website, your rankings will fall.
Mobile vs. Desktop
Mobile version? Desktop version? What does that even mean?
The mobile version is how users experience your website on a phone. More people look at websites on phones than they do on desktop computers, and so Google is trying to maximize its search for mobile users.
You may be used to viewing your website on a desktop computer, perhaps with a large monitor. Instead, examine your website from the perspective of someone viewing it on a phone. Spend some time with it so that you understand the differences.
What Google’s Changes Mean for Your Website
Even if you’re not concerned with Google’s rankings, it’s important to understand and apply Google’s new criteria in order to maximize the experience of users viewing your website.
Google’s new criteria are vast, so I’ve included the most important ones here. View your website on a phone and pay particular attention to content, layout, and speed:
If somebody Googles your website, the results will only contain information that exists in the mobile version.
The content of your website that appears on the phone is not always identical to the content that appears on the desktop.
You may have text, images, audio, video, or even entire pages on the desktop version that are hidden on the mobile version.
Google now evaluates only the mobile layout of your website when determining how to rank it.
Many of us still think of the primary layout of a website as the one that we see on a desktop computer, with large images and multiple columns, where we can use a mouse to navigate.
But the mobile version is now the primary layout. Content has to be easy to locate and read on a small screen, without a lot of clicks or scrolling. Links have to be far enough apart to accommodate the size of our fingertips.
Phones usually have slower connections to the internet, which will impact how long it takes for your website to load.
You can optimize your website by keeping images to a smaller file size, and not using too many plugins or website builders.
But in addition to measuring how fast it takes for your website to function on a phone, Google ranks how long it takes before your website even starts to load. This is a measure of the speed of your web hosting account and whether your website is being appropriately cached.
If you’re accustomed to viewing your website on a desktop or laptop, it may be an adjustment to see it from a mobile user’s perspective. If this feels a bit overwhelming, you’re not alone. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions, or need any help optimizing your website for mobile.