Google has signaled what may be the biggest development in Internet marketing since it effectively banished millions of websites to Purgatory with its Panda and Penguin updates of 2012.
On January 19, 2015, Google started sending warnings to webmasters of sites it deemed to have “critical mobile usability” issues that the site would be “ranked appropriately” if those issues were not addressed.
Google is providing fair warning that the time for Responsive Web Design (RWD) is now.
What We Know
The increase in the use of mobile devices to consume Internet content has been a developing trend ever since the invention of the smartphone. Analytics observed by Webolutions confirm the trend.
User experience has always been a factor in Google’s ranking algorithm. To address this, website design experts at Webolutions have always paid close attention to the website page load speed, text to html ratios and visitor-friendly sitemaps. For the last few years, we’ve also recommended Responsive Web Design be part of the initial website construct. RWD is a cost-effective means of providing an optimal mobile user experience.
Google, which still commands 75 percent of the global search market, and all search engines face competition from each other and new market entrants such as Facebook. Just as with any service provider, their continued relevance is dependent upon the quality of their service offering. This is why, right now, Google search results conducted on smartphones include notices that certain websites are mobile-friendly.
Google sees the same research we do, and it states clearly that as of July, 2014, when mobile application-originated traffic is included, 60 percent of all online traffic is mobile.
A November, 2014, Akamai study estimates only 18.7 percent of websites are responsive. That study reflects a large growth in RWD in 2014.
What We Believe
Google’s warning implies it is moving from rewarding mobile-friendly sites with such language to punishing those that are not.
Google has only one algorithm; there is not a search algorithm for desktop and mobile. Therefore, Webolutions believes websites not optimized for mobile consumption will be penalized in all searches. Search ranks for those websites will drop, taking leads and revenues with them.
How to Use This Information
When building websites, to date, Webolutions has recommended incorporating Responsive Web Design into the initial website design while advising RWD can be retrofit at a later date.
Existing websites should ensure their site is mobile-friendly. For those who are not, now is the time to budget to retrofit RWD. All newly built websites should include RWD in the initial design.
Webolutions web design experts in Denver, Colorado are, at this writing, finalizing predictions, more detailed literature about this significant development and planning events to educate and motivate the business community.
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