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Google Has Spoken: Why Going Mobile Is A Must

You may have heard by now, but smartphone usage is kind of a big deal. Such a big deal, in fact, that Google recently released a “mobile-friendly update” giving precedence to mobile-friendly web pages in search results performed on mobile devices.

In other words, when you whip out that smartphone to search for marinara sauce recipes (or “how to get marinara sauce out of carpet” two hours later), Google won’t just return websites with the most relevant content - it will return websites with the most relevant content that is easy to read on your phone.

This update brings a whole new element to the fluid landscape of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and ensuring your place as a top results contender in the growing number of searches done via smartphone. Let’s take a closer look, starting with this whole friendliness business.

What exactly does it mean to be “mobile-friendly”?

Playing nice on the mobile playground is all about legibility and usability.  Smartphone users don’t want to pinch and zoom their way through web pages anymore, and Google knows that. In the example below, we see on the left a website that’s not mobile-friendly: the text is entirely too small to read, and navigating that menu means constant zooming. Awkward, right? In the example on the right, the website is easy to both read and use on a smartphone without any pesky pinching and zooming.

Image courtesy of Google

The best way to achieve a seamless flow from desktop legibility to mobile legibility involves responsive web design - but we’ll get into that a little bit further on!

How can I tell if my site is mobile-friendly?

Google knew we’d all be asking ourselves this question, so it designed a handy tool for analyzing your site from your desktop: just copy your website’s URL; paste it into their analyzer; and hit analyze to see whether or not Google thinks your site is mobile-friendly.

HUZZAH! WE PASSED! Okay, we’ll set aside the celebratory pom-poms (...for now).

But what if my site came back unfriendly?

Remember that responsive web design bit we mentioned earlier? It’s exactly what it sounds like: web design that responds to the user’s device, automatically adjusting things like menu tabs to the size of the screen that’s viewing it. You saw what our site looks like on a mobile device above, but here’s what it looks like viewed from a desktop browser:

The difference in sizing and, consequently, passing Google’s mobile-friendliness test - that’s responsive web design at work for you.

If you’re interested in learning more about bringing your site to the forefront of Google’s search results and using responsive web design, just drop us a line - we’re here to help!

Ali Reese  @alireese
Ali is a Phoenix-based community professional and word-wrangling freelancer who loves good design, Scrabble and fried pickles

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