Google’s been known to make dramatic algorithm changes in the past. Anyone who’s been involved in design or SEO for the past decade already knows that some of the standard, “killer” strategies that used to net traffic as little as two years ago may not be valid anymore. On top of that, Google’s no stranger when it comes to consumer trends as well; you can see it in the way that they launch, sink, or sustain their own programs and services, from Google Mail to the now-dead Google Buzz. It’s safe to say that when they set an algorithm change, it tends to be for a good reason.
The most recent change, roughly launched around April 21st, put another trend into motion; the need to be mobile friendly. The algorithm change was launched across all of its multinational versions and affects every language. There’s no doubt that they are betting heavy on the need for more mobile content. So what does it mean for you as a designer?
- Get mobile friendly ASAP. If you aren’t already working on a mobile-first design for your site, you need to shift gears, now more than ever. Google’s shift in its algorithm places a higher priority on sites that are ranked to have great mobile experiences, which includes all of the same quality checks that it puts in for desktop devices, with additional requirements like security and stability for Android and iOS users, designs that are responsive or otherwise formatted for mobile viewports, fast loading times, a lack of clutter, and more. In other words, now is the time to make your site as mobile friendly as possible.
- If you already have a mobile version of your site, then keep it updated and you should notice a significant uptick in the amount of traffic that you’re getting. It really is just that simple; Google’s priority on mobile sites over desktop versions means that those who were well prepared are going to be reaping the benefits, as long as they follow the best practices of design. Responsive designs are best, by the way. Google’s going to be placing priority on them over the mobile domain versions. Make sure that your site is also free of different elements like Adobe Flash, or text that can’t be easily read on a mobile device without zooming. Google will penalize you for this.
There’s really no better advice for this than to make sure that your site is designed with mobile first in mind; responsive designs with mobile-centric philosophies still look great, as long as you don’t misfire (We’re looking at you, Metro UI.) Keeping the site as mobile friendly as possible is going to be key, as some sites get as much as half of their traffic from mobile devices, or even as much as 80%. Regardless of your site’s category or intended purpose, that’s a lot of eyes that Google could send your way.