By Bob Milliken

Bob Milliken
Bob Milliken

On April 21st GOOGLE turned on their mobile-friendly web-site ranking algorithm used by its popular search engine to boost the page rankings of mobile device friendly web pages. As a result, Google will now penalize web sites that are not mobile-friendly with lower rankings. We are now a couple of weeks into the launch, but have not noticed any “significant” impact – yet.
However, let’s not get too complacent. It is clear that mobile devices are now the browser of choice – 55% of all time spent on retail sites takes place from a mobile device. Websites that are not mobile-friendly will ultimate lose their ability to attract. Google has recognized this and wants to reward mobile-friendly web pages with higher placements – 44% of consumers will go to a competitor’s site when faced with a negative website experience. Web-sites that are not mobile-friendly will be listed far lower (lose their ranking) in the search engine results page. Speed is of the essence – 64% of smart phone users expect pages to load in less than 4 seconds! Improving website page load times, even by as little as a second, will result in 11% more page views, 16% increased user trust, and 7% more conversions. The need to build for mobility could not be more compelling.
Realize that your web site is either mobile-friendly or it’s not. There is no in-between ground. To be considered mobile friendly your website will have to match Google rules. Use this quick test to see if your website is mobile-friendly. Bit.ly/mobilegeddontest Google created a guide of common mistakes to avoid; http://developers.google.com.
A few key criteria will be used to determine the mobile-friendliness of your site. When the GoogleBot crawls your website, here is what it will be looking for;
1. Your website avoids using software that doesn’t translate to most mobile devices (eg-Flash).
2. Your website uses text that is easily readable without the need to zoom.
3. Content is sized to the screen automatically so that visitors don’t have to zoom or scroll.
4. Links have enough space between them so that the correct one can be easily tapped.

Being “mobile-friendly” does not mean you are set for higher rankings. Google’s Mary Grove explained recently that there are over 200 factors used to determine a website’s ranking on the search engine results. If your site doesn’t provide a great user experience, a “mobile face-lift” will not help you in the rankings. Google wants the highest quality content on the web to reach people when they are searching. If you website isn’t providing the best experience for your user, Google will not favour you – mobile or not.
To avoid the risk of being penalized by Google, we recommned that you make your website mobile-friendly before you start dropping places in the search engines. Don’t hesitate to give us a call if you have concerns about your website’s design or mobile presence.

Bob Milliken is the president of Cascadia Systems Group.
Connect with Bob at TheITguy@CascadiaSystemsGroup.com, or give us a call – 604.270.1730.
Your comments are appreciated – ComputerCents@CascadiaSystemsGroup.com