In early 2015, Google announced a game changing update for the SEO industry. As of April 21, 2015, sites with solid mobile support will rank higher in the Google search results for mobile users. Sites with no mobile support will generally rank lower in mobile search results.
Whether we like it or not, mobile users are here to stay. And whether we like it or not, Google is driving the mobile revolution. With the largest mobile app store in the world, the largest mobile operating system in the world, and the largest amount of mobile search users, I think it’s safe to say mobile users are a priority for Google.
Google is rolling out this update to give webmasters a nudge to make the Internet more friendly for mobile users. If you are not supporting mobile users, it’s time to seriously start thinking about increasing your mobile support, not just for better search engine results, but for better sales and conversions—a very large segment of your traffic are mobile users.
If you are concerned about your rankings for searches performed on desktop and laptop machines you have nothing to worry about. Google made it very clear this update only affects search results on mobile devices.
What to do about the mobile update.
If you want to increase your support for mobile devices and be more search engine friendly, you have three options:
1. Create a responsive site.
Responsive sites are the cream of the crop when it comes to sites that support both desktop and mobile devices. With responsive sites, both mobile and desktop users see the same pages and same content, and everything is automatically sized to fit the screen. It’s also becoming more common for WordPress templates and new sites to feature a responsive layout.
2. Dynamically serve different content to mobile and desktop users.
You can ask your web developer to detect which devices are accessing your site and automatically deliver a different version of your site catered to the device. This is a more complicated setup, better suited for very large sites with thousands of pages when a responsive approach is not possible.
3. Host your mobile content on a separate subdomain, e.g. m.yoursite.com
While Google has stated they support this implementation, I recommend against it. You need a lot of redirects in place and must jump through giant hoops to ensure search engines are recognizing your special mobile subdomain as a copy of your main site. Responsive sites are popular for good reason: it’s much easier and cheaper to maintain one site rather than additionally maintaining a mobile copy of your site on a mobile subdomain.
Google have stated that this mobile update is fairly straightforward, either your site supports mobile devices or it doesn’t. Google will not reward sites with better mobile support with higher rankings over sites with average mobile support—for now. If your site supports mobile devices, you can rest assured you will most likely be fine with this update. Run your site through the below tool quickly and see if your site supports mobile devices in Google’s eye
Mobile-Friendly Test Tool
The technical details of building a responsive site are beyond the scope of this book and could fill an entire book. That said, mobile SEO can be ridiculously simple.
If you have a responsive site that delivers the same content to mobile and desktop users, automatically resizes content to the screen, is fast and is user-friendly, all you have to do is follow the SEO recommendations in this book, and your mobile results will be top notch from an SEO perspective.
For guidelines direct from the horse’s mouth, so to speak, you can read Google’s mobile support documentation for webmasters and web developers.
Mobile Friendly Sites
Finding More Mobile Friendly Search Results
Three powerful SEO strategies explained.
On Page SEO
Improvement of website to SEO
What Google Tells Us About Quality Content
Getting started with local SEO
Powerful SEO tools that can help save hours, days or even weeks of your time.
How to stay ahead of Google’s updates