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The mobile apocalypse is coming: Why you need a mobile version of your website!

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April 21st is an important day for internet search and your website! Google has recently revealed that it plans to use mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal for mobile searches. This means that if your site is not mobile-friendly, you’re going to lose traffic, and this could hurt your business. It even has a hashtag: #mobilegeddon. But don’t worry, bad things will only happen if you’re not mobile-friendly.

Why now?

In a recent post, Google declared its intentions:

Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results.

It’s nearly 10 years since the first user-friendly and internet-capable phones such as the Nokia N70 started appearing. These were phones that could browse the web over a 2G or 3G connection. Since then, iPhones and Androids have proliferated. But despite the wide adoption of these devices, many sites still aren’t mobile-friendly.

nokia_n70_old_mobile_phone

Even with high-speed internet connections the speed of websites downloads is limited. This means that the trend toward larger pages and often lazy, non-optimized responsive design can lead to page bloat and poor performance. And performance is a big, big deal right now.

And it’s not just about technology—it’s about users too. Many studies have shown that users want pages quickly, and not giving them what they want efficiently has a real and measurable effect on the balance sheet. For instance, in 2012, Walmart found that for every 1 second decrease in page load time saw a 2% conversion increase.

There have been indications that Google has been working toward this date for some time now, with some quite obvious clues within the past few months. For example, there was an update to its search results pages in November 2014 which indicated whether a result page was mobile-friendly or not, by literally spelling it out.

mobile-friendly

Previous to that Google has given clear advice about mobile seo issues such as faulty mobile redirection and app interstitial download pages.

These were all steps designed to improve mobile user experience, and can be viewed as a prelude to the April 21st apocalypse.

The bottom line is, you need to be compatible with mobile devices, and you need your site to be fast

Is my site mobile-friendly?

So, if you don’t have a mobile version of your website, you should be worried. First you should check using one of the free tools that you can find online. Most of them the URL or web address of your site as input, and deliver a report as output, telling you where you need to improve.

Mobile-friendly test

URL: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/

This tool from Google runs a set of tests to check if your site is mobile-friendly. If you pass this test, then you can be sure that Google believes your site is mobile-friendly, and you don’t need to worry!

Pagespeed insights

URL: https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/

This is another tool from Google which analyses the speed of your webpages from both desktop and mobile points of view, and delivers a list of improvements that can be made to speed up your website. Improvements such as image compression, and caching of resources are suggested, however the suggestions generally require technical expertise to implement.

pagespeed-insights

How to get a mobile optimized website

According to Google no particular approach to get a mobile optimized website is preferred. So whether it’s responsive, adaptive, or something else, just as long as it is mobile-friendly, then you’ve nothing to worry about

The quickest and easiest solution is to use a third-party service such as goMobi to mobilize your site automatically. This service will quickly crawl your site, and create a mobile version within seconds. You can then tweak and modify the mobile version with an admin panel. And it requires zero technical expertise. You’ll be mobile-friendly in minutes.

Example goMobi site, adapting for multiple devices

There are other options available too, if you have the time and budget and someone technical on hand. Alternatives include responsive design and adaptive or RESS approaches.

The solution you choose will depend on your budget and time constraints and available technical resources. Whatever you decide to do, do it quickly. The clock is ticking!