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Why Google Is Placing So Much Emphasis On Responsive Websites

Posted by Fred Scholl on Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Topics: Websites, Google Rankings

google-responsive-websitesIf you’re a webmaster, web developer, or are involved in internet-based marketing, you have no doubt heard of “Mobilegeddon” by now. For those readers who haven’t been following the news, this refers to Google’s latest update to its search algorithm, which has been in effect since April 21st. The name “Mobilegeddon” contains two clues about the nature of this update, and the effect it was expected to have. Google now gives higher ranking to responsive (mobile-friendly) websites, and this was expected to have a cataclysmic effects on much of the web. 

As it turned out, Mobilegeddon was not the Armageddon that many were bracing for. This was largely due to the fact that Google released its guidelines for mobile-friendliness more than two months in advance, including a testing tool to determine whether your site would pass muster under the new standards. But it did serve as a bit of a wakeup call, and should be seen as a harbinger of things to come.

The essential point here is not that Google changed its algorithm, which, by the way, only affected searches done from mobile devices, leaving desktop searches untouched. But this is really an acknowledgement of something most of us are already aware of, at least to some degree: more and more, internet use is shifting from the desktop browser to mobile devices.

Let’s look at a few statistics from a recent study by Cisco, which show the trends involving mobile internet use. Mobile internet use grew by a factor of 69% in 2014, and the total amount of mobile data traffic in that same year was close to 30 times that of the entire global internet in 2000. Almost half a billion new mobile devices were connected last year, and mobile connection speeds increased by an average of 20%.

What should this all mean to you? As I mentioned, the main implication is something that we all have a sense of already. People are connecting to the internet more from their smartphones and tablets than they are from their desktops and laptops.

While Mobilegeddon didn’t mark the end of the world or even the end of the web as we know it, it highlights the fact that your website will need to be responsive, that is, adaptable to be viewed and used from a variety of devices with different sized screens. If users try to view your website from their iPhone or Android device, and find it to be other than mobile-friendly, they’re likely to click right out of your page, straight to the site of a competitor whose site works on their device.

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