The New Google Ranking Factor Could Up-End Search Results.
If you’ve performed a Google search on your smartphone lately, you may have noticed that each listing is pre-faced with “mobile-friendly”. This is to indicate to users that this website will show up on users’ smartphones in a usable way (no pinching and zooming a gigantic website).
But Google is taking is a step further, and is suggesting that your website’s mobile-friendliness will be a major ranking factor in the near-future.
How ‘Near-Future’ is Google Talking Here?
Google has already started sending out mobile usability warnings to webmasters if their websites fail to meet Google’s criteria for mobile-friendliness. If you have a Google Webmaster Tools account, you can check to see if you have any recent messages from Google regarding your website.
As for when it becomes a major factor in ranking your website, you can bet that by May at the latest you will likely see a major algorithm change that will implement mobile-friendliness. Google released a Panda update last May, and you can bet that they will release a new version of Panda around that time this year. The Panda-updates, as you may be aware, deal with filter out low-quality websites by evaluating the on-page content. Mobile-friendliness and on-page content go hand in hand.
Ways To Make Your Site Mobile-Friendly:
There are two major ways to make your site mobile friendly: use a responsive theme (responsive means that the website automatically adjusts to the size of the user’s screen) or use a mobile-website plugin.
Option 1: Responsive Themes
Almost all major new WordPress themes are responsive. If you’re going the free route, you’ll want to search for websites that have ‘responsive’ in their keyword tags. For paid themes on sites like Themeforest.net, you can search for themes by filtering out any that aren’t responsive.
How does it work?
One example is Sahifa theme. It’s one of the most popular WordPress themes out there, so you’ve likely already seen websites that use it. The website itself changes based on the device that visits the webpage. Here’s an example of an external website that uses Sahifa:
Now, if you visit that page on your desktop, and then on your smartphone, you will find that the website looks vastly different. The content, the words and pictures, are all resized to fit your screen. This whole process is completely invisible, and involves no redirection.
If you can find a high quality responsive theme, this is the preferred method for making your website mobile-friendly.
Option 2: Install a Mobile Plugin
If you have a theme that isn’t responsive but you want to keep the theme, another option is to install a plugin that will create a mobile-friendly version of your website, like WP-Touch. These websites will create your website in mobile-form, and will then redirect smartphone users to a different version of your website. There are some drawbacks to this option:
- The redirection isn’t always perfect: – Sometimes the plugin will detect a tablet or desktop PC as a mobile device and show them the mobile website…which looks terrible up on larger screens. Usually there’s no way manually select the ‘desktop’ version of the site, either.
- The Plugins Don’t Match Your Site’s Look: – WP-Touch, for example, will make your website look like all the other websites that use WP-Touch. It strips out all the colors and stylings that make your website unique. Your website’s titel will be in plain lettering instead of that fancy banner you created. There is a premium version of WP-Touch with more styling options, if you choose to go that route.
- The mobile friendly site is a sub-domain, which could have SEO issues – When you visit the mobile site, the web address becomes “www.m.yoursite.com”, which is a subdomain. So if you have a really amazing article that people want to link to, your audience may link to your mobile web address accidentally, which can dilute your link juice. Subdomains and domains have different domain authority in Google’s eyes.
Free Tool: Check Your Site With Google!
If you aren’t sure if your website is mobile-friendly or not, Google has created a free tool for you to check your website here: