Quick: go here and type in the address for your website.
If you weren’t sure about whether or not you should make your site responsive, let this help solve the mystery. In April, Google plans to make some major changes to the algorithm it uses to rank sites on mobile devices.
Members of Google’s Webmaster Trends team have been saying that this algorithm will have a big impact on mobile search results — bigger than other major changes made in the last few years.
In short, if your website is not optimized for viewing on mobile devices, you risk being penalized. And since estimates are that 50% of searches happen on mobile devices, this is a big missed opportunity if your site isn’t optimized for viewing on tablets and smartphones.
What + When
Starting on the 21st, the search-engine behemoth will put more emphasis on how mobile-friendly a site is in ranking it against other sites for search results.
The roll-out won’t happen immediately, according to a Q&A session that was hosted on a Google+ Webmaster Hangout. It will take about a week for all sites to be indexed against the new rules.
It’s Cut + Dry
Unfortunately there’s no such thing as being semi-responsive, according to Google. The sooner you know if your site is mobile-ready, the quicker you can move on updating your site before Google’s Algorithm changes.
Not only will your results let you know where your site stands, but doing a search for yourself and your business will help you figure out how your site measures up against Google’s mobile standards.
Got an App? There’s an Algorithm for That.
When Google first published the announcement about their algorithm changing, they also started using information from indexed apps for mobile users who were signed in and had the app installed.
With the changes Google’s making to how it displays search results on mobile phones, this means indexed apps might get more prominence.
But How Do They Do It?
Google has been known for keeping the specifics about their algorithms under lock and key, but a look at any of their Mobile Guide for Developers will help provide some clues on what exactly their Bots are looking for.
Most sites make use of Responsive Web Design (RWD) to optimize how the site is viewed on tablets and mobile devices. This makes use of the same HTML document across all browser types and sizes, and primarily uses CSS to build how the site will look on each device. If those site files are hidden, it makes it very hard for Google to detect a site’s optimization for mobile.
Other methods of making a site responsive that are picked up by Google include Dynamic Serving, where different HTML and CSS files are served to a URL depending on the user device.
And lastly, the use of different versions of a website that will render based on device, for example, m.example.com for mobile devices instead of example.com.
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