Well, how about that!!!!
Google for the first time ever has announced a change in their search algorithm as of April 21,2015. They are warning the world that if your website is deemed not mobile-friendly you will be in a heap of hurt. They will downgrade your site in search results on mobile devices and since 70+% of all searches are now done on mobile devices that means trouble in River City. What is significant about this announcement is that Google has never, ever, ever announced changes to its algorithm to anyone. There are an estimated 200 variables used in determining Google’s SERPs (Search Engine Result Page) and this is an important announcement. I should note that Google says this does not affect results of searches done from desktop systems. Big Whoop! We’re only heading upwards on searches done on mobile devices. This just means your target audience is slipping further away. Sort of like a boat slipping its mooring. How fast you drift further from shore depends on the current.
What do you do now?
If you own a website that does not play nice on mobile devices, immediately contact your web development team and put them in crisis mode. [Remember… crisis mode to them might mean they are out of pizza or soda] If you have a custom developed website, you may be looking at significant time and cost. It’s just SMOP…Simple Matter Of Programming…and programming generally costs money. Also, having a mobile app…like downloaded from iTunes or the Google Play store…is not the same as ‘mobile-friendly’. It’s a separate beast. Google does not count that. We are talking about your standard, every day website.
If you are using a standard Content Management System you might have it a little easier. My CMS of choice is WordPress. It’s the most popular Blog/CMS package in the world. Also, there are almost 30,000 plugins that allow you to customize the systems to your liking. It’s like walking into the Legos aisle at Target and seeing rows and rows of Lego sets. You can build whatever you want with pretty much the same little building blocks. There are also hundreds of themes out there…some free…others for pay. A theme essentially controls the look and feel of a website. Modern WP themes are generally ‘responsive’ themes. This means they ‘respond’ to whatever device you are running and change the look of the website to best fit the device. This means ‘mobile-friendly’ in Google’s world.
I have a customer who had a 5 year old theme on their e-Commerce site that was definitely not mobile friendly. Over a weekend I spent 18 hours converting them to a responsive WP theme and had them up and running on Monday morning with a mobile-friendly site. Friday – facing search engine Hell. Monday – facing mobile friendly heaven. This illustrates the significant reason for going with a standard CMS system… COSTS! I can spend $40 on a plugin for certain functionality that otherwise might require me to spend 20 hours of programming. Guess what… I don’t charge $2 per hour.
Another advantage of a standard CMS is security updates. If you have a custom designed website, that means your developer has to stay on top of every possible security hack that might impact your system. How much pizza and Pepsi do you have? …cause it’s going to be a long night. If you have an e-Commerce site…think nightmares. In the WordPress world WP is constantly being updated to protect against the latest vulnerabilities. Likewise the plugin creators follow suit. They have to protect their investment in time and money.
So…whichever way you go…do it quickly.