Responsive Web Design and Google’s Mobile Friendly Update

On April 21, Google made a major change to its search engine results page (SERP) algorithm on mobile devices: websites that are mobile friendly are now placed higher in the results. If your website is not mobile responsive, this algorithm change could have a significant impact on your web traffic. Let’s take a look at Google’s update and how it could affect you.


Why Does Google Now Favor Mobile-Friendly Sites?


As of May 5, more Google searches are performed on mobile devices than desktops. Anticipating this shift, Google wanted to tailor the mobile search results for a better user experience.


“When it comes to search on mobile devices, users should get the most relevant and timely results, no matter if the information lives on mobile-friendly web pages or apps,” the company explained on its Webmaster Central Blog. “As more people use mobile devices to access the internet, our algorithms have to adapt to these usage patterns.”


Google hasn’t said exactly how much weight it gives to mobile responsiveness as a ranking signal, but it’s worth noting that the company publicized this change in advance, whereas the last two major search-algorithm updates, Panda and Penguin, were launched unannounced. Google wants you to have a mobile-ready site.


What the Google Mobile Update Means for You

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If you don’t have a mobile-friendly site, your business could be buried in mobile search results. And even if people do find your website in a mobile search, they may click away because it’s not mobile responsive—according to Google, “50% of people will use a business less often if the website isn’t mobile-friendly … even if they like the business!


What can you do to protect your business? First, check your site with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. If your site fails the test, it’s time for an update!


Why Choose Responsive Website Design?


There are a few different options for making your website work on mobile devices. They’re all an improvement over not having any mobile design, but some are better than others. Let’s compare:


  • Making a separate mobile site: On mobile devices, your website would redirect to different URLs that use different HTML to look good on mobile. This method is prone to coding errors and can be expensive to maintain. If not properly set up, search results can get screwy and SEO can be affected negatively.
  • Dynamic serving: This method uses two sets of HTML and CSS codes on one URL. It doesn’t have the search index issues of a separate mobile site, but implementation is complex and maintenance can be expensive.
  • Responsive website design: The same code on the same URL adjusts to the user’s device to display correctly on any screen size. This method is easier to implement and maintain, and it’s not prone to errors, so you save money and your site always looks great. Just ask Google: “Responsive design is Google’s recommended design pattern.”


Zen Den can update your site with responsive web design so it gets favored in mobile Google searches and is easy for your customers to use. Set up a consultation today!