Or mobile-unfriendly, same thing :-)
Google is really pushing towards a mobile-friendly internet, and here’s proof:
1. Last year, Google started displaying a discreet “mobile-friendly” tag in search results on mobile devices:
These labels obviously encourages clicks, here’s Google’s statement regarding them: “We see these labels as a first step in helping mobile users to have a better mobile web experience.”
2. Everybody using Google Webmaster Tools has been getting emails like this recently, urging site owners to make their website responsive:
These emails are also tied to their free mobile testing tool (which reviews a page and identifies mobile-friendliness issues).
3. And last but not least, this month (March 2015) Google announced that it will start penalizing non-mobile-friendly websites in April, as part of their search ranking algorithm.
While this impact can’t be quantified, as rankings depend on hundreds of other factors, the shift towards a mobile internet is plain to see.
Why is Google making these changes?
I think it’s important to also understand Google’s reasoning.
Since mobile users are quickly growing in numbers, Google needs to meet this huge demand for responsive websites. Otherwise, search results themselves will become less relevant to smartphone & tablet users, and Google can’t afford that. To put it simply: less confidence in their search results would lead to less usage of their ads :-)
“Starting April 21 , we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.”
Announcement from the Official Google Webmaster Blog
So Google is no longer being discreet about it. It’s clearly telling us that non mobile-friendly sites will soon go lower in their rankings.
While you already know you can hire me for web-design projects (or to make an existing website responsive), this is not a sales pitch. I recommend that all photographers out there (whether they’re solely building their sites or not) invest some time into making their site mobile-friendly.
Google’s intentions are good, a responsive website does indeed create a great browsing experience to mobile users, no longer having to pinch-and-zoom.
Here’s how you can start to tackle this problem:
- Almost all modern WordPress themes are now responsive, so consider switching to one.
- If using other platforms (like PhotoShelter, Smugmug, Zenfolio etc), make sure your site template is responsive, and test it in Google’s free tool to confirm.
- Avoid software that is not compatible with mobile devices (aka: no flash)
- Increase your font-sizes, make the text readable without zooming
- Work on your site’s performance, it’s even more important for mobile users
- Use Google Webmaster Tools and it’s “Search Traffic > Mobile Usability” section
Hope this was a little eye-opening. You can leave a comment with any questions, glad to help.
I’m happy to also see my own articles becoming popular online. LightStalking.com has a fantastic weekly post with interesting photography links from around them web, everything from tutorials to gear reviews & cool photo projects. It’s something I recommend adding to your reading list (or RSS reader), here’s a link to this specific weekly category on their site.
“This is, without a doubt, the most comprehensive list of tips and tricks I’ve seen for optimizing your online presence for SEO. Each of the points discussed is covered in good detail, but not so technical that the key points are lost. Almost everyone will benefit from reading the list and applying at least some of the techniques to website seeding.”
Thanks for being a fan (and subscriber here), I appreciate it. More quality content coming soon.
– Alex Vita