As of April 21st, Google will start to penalize websites that are not optimized for mobile devices.
Given that 60 per cent of all searches now come from mobile devices, Google has been gently pushing webmasters to make their website more mobile friendly for a while. Finally, in February, Google announced that webmasters would have two months to step up their game, or suffer a lower listing in the search results.
The reasoning is simple: mobile users gets frustrated when visiting sites that they can’t properly use because the text is too small, the links are too close together, they need Flash to use core functions or where the design does not respond to the size of the screen. Frustrated users are bad for Google’s business model, so they are making sure that the highest ranked results are usable and that badly designed sites are pushed down.
The cost of outdated web design
If you are a non-profit or humanitarian organization or an NGO that relies on online fundraising, then not being mobile friendly means that you will get less donations. After all, you can count on at least one of your competitors having a mobile optimized website. This will ultimately cost you more money than updating your design (which you should do anyhow!), so now is the time to get that budget!
What you can do right away
Of course, unless you have a fairly small website, you cannot make large changes to the design in 24 hours. Even the two months warning that Google gave webmasters was pretty tight. However, there are a couple of things you can do right now:
- Take the “Mobile-Friendly Test” that shows you whether your site is mobile friendly. If there are problems, the test will identify them for you.
- If you are using a common CMS such as WordPress, Drupal or Joomla!, then you might be able create simple mobile version of your site very easily. In the case of a basic WordPress installation for example, it literally takes 15 minutes. Fortunately Google is providing guides for 11 content management systems that can help you make your site mobile friendly.
- If your CMS is not listed, google “<name of your CMS> mobile friendly” or “<name of your CMS> responsive design” and see whether someone else has developed a quick fix. Particularly if you are using an open source CMS you should be able to find something comparatively easily.
Do you know of good resources that would help people make their sites mobile friendly? Please share them in the comments!