Not long after Google added the “Mobile-Friendly” label to their search engine results pages (SERPs), they’ve finally announced that they’ll start using “Mobile-Friendly” as a positive ranking factor in their search algorithms as soon as April 21st.
The announcement posted on their Webmaster Central blog explains the reasoning briefly, but stands primarily as a warning to webmasters.
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.
While we generally would recommend a total re-design using a combination of Responsive Web Design (RWD) techniques and Adaptive Web Design (AWD), webmasters DO have other options.
Adaptive Mobile Site Plugin
If you’re using WordPress, you can cover a lot of ground toward getting your site mobile-friendly by using an adaptive (not responsive) mobile site plugin like WP-Touch.
We love the Pro version of the plugin and used it ourselves years ago on our own site.
Upgrade Your Theme
If you’re using a CMS and purchased a premium theme years ago, many come with free upgrades. These upgrades typically include new versions of the same theme, but built with Responsive Web Design baked-in. All you’d have to do is upgrade the theme and re-test your site using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test–just to make sure you’re truly mobile-friendly.
Bite the Bullet
In either case, you may still end up with a lot of “bloat” which can end up slowing your site down. That’s one step forward and one step back as site loading speed is also a search ranking factor now.
Because of Google’s announcement, you might just have to bite the bullet and commission a website redesign. Responsive Web Design as well as Adaptive have both fallen in price with the raise in responsive frameworks like Bootstrap and adaptive tools like MobileDetect (among many others).
So, reach out to your favorite digital agency and just see what they say. You might just thank Google for the shove in the right direction.
Update: Totally called it. Bing is also rewarding responsive websites with a “Mobile-Friendly” tag now.
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