We no longer live in a world where people say, “It’s nice to have a mobile device.” Now it’s, “I can’t function without a mobile device.”
Mobile usage is growing worldwide every day. It was predicted by eMarketer that in 2013 the average adult would spend approximately 5 hours and 16 minutes online, with 2 hours and 19 minutes of that total time being spent on mobile devices. eMarketer also estimated that 73.4 percent of Internet users accessed the web from a mobile device in 2013, and it foresees that percent rising to 79.1 this year.
With so many people using mobile devices for any and everything they need, it’s no surprise that Google is taking special interest in ensuring sites are mobile-friendly for users. Google cares about its users and strives to give them the most valuable sites and information they can to help them experience the fullness of the web. So if your site isn’t optimized for mobile devices, don’t think Google won’t notice.
In June 2013, Google announced its plan to roll out numerous ranking changes in the somewhat near future to address websites that are misconfigured for mobile users, and in October, Google started taking action.
Google wants to improve the search experience for mobile users, and you want to adhere to what Google and your mobile users want. To do that, you must make sure your mobile users aren’t experiencing certain issues.
A typical problem is faulty redirects, where a desktop page sends mobile users to an unrelated page on the mobile site. A lot of times users leave the site out of frustration if that happens. Sometimes users stay if they really want to find that correct page, but that takes them time and most are annoyed the whole time they’re looking for it. Other problems include serving 404s, unplayable videos and page speed.
These problems are fairly easy fixes. To avoid irrelevant redirects, redirect mobile users from a desktop page to its equivalent mobile-optimized page. If there isn’t a mobile-friendly format for their page, take them to the desktop page because that’s better than sending them to a page they didn’t want. Don’t serve 404s or give users an error page. Redirect them to the right URL or show them the desktop version if there isn’t a mobile one. Don’t have videos users can’t play when visiting your site on a mobile device. You can avoid this by steering clear of software that most mobile devices don’t support, like Adobe Flash. Provide fast, not slow, page speed. Make sure a page’s loading time is quick and optimized for mobile devices.
If mobile users experience any of these problems with your site, then Google will drop you in its mobile rankings. But if you make your site work on all platforms, Google takes notice and will do its best to make sure your site ranks above ones that frustrate users and don’t work on specific platforms. When your site is mobile-friendly, your users will be pleased with you and your rankings will be up where they should be, which means a better chance of receiving more traffic to your site.