If your business is at all dependent upon Google search results for generating leads, then mark your calendars for April 21, 2015. On this day, Google plans to dramatically shake up the way it delivers search results to its users by shifting emphasis toward mobile-friendly websites. If your site isn't mobile optimized, your ranking could decline radically, and your business could suffer.
The change was inevitable, after all, with the number of mobile Internet users outpacing desktop users in 2014 for the first time in history.
So what makes a mobile-friendly website? According to Google, your site must avoid software uncommon to mobile devices, such as Flash. Text size must be readable without zooming, and content must automatically adjust in size to fit smaller screens without requiring users to scroll horizontally or zoom. And lastly, a Google-approved mobile-friendly site ensures links are large enough and far enough apart that the user can easily tap them on-screen.
There are two ways to approach the creation of a mobile-friendly website. Either build a mobile-responsive website (ideal) or develop a separate mobile-friendly version of your website (less costly). While those two solutions may sound similar, they are indeed quite different.
Building a mobile-responsive website means no matter which page of your site a user accesses on their mobile device, each one will automatically resize itself for optimum viewing on the particular device in use, whether that be a smart phone, regular-sized tablet, mini tablet, or laptop. Let's say, for example, your responsive website generally displays three columns of content on each page when viewed on your desktop, but when viewed on your tablet, that content automatically shifts to a two-column format to avoid any need to scroll horizontally.
While the responsive option is certainly ideal, it can be somewhat costly. And if minimizing upfront costs is vital, you may consider the alternative approach of simply creating a special mobile-only version of your website. It would be designed specifically with mobile in mind -- reduced content, large buttons and a focus on just the content mobile users want most (e.g., contact information, driving directions).
Your site can be coded to automatically detect a mobile viewer and deliver this separate mobile version of your site. The downside is you now have two sites to maintain, which could actually end up costing more in the long run, if you factor in your time.
Deciding which solution makes the most sense for your business begins with an assessment of the volume of mobile users on your site and how they typically interact with it -- data available through most website reporting tools. But no matter which path you head down, do it fast, before your competition capitalizes on this considerable Google change.
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