With increasing competition and technological developments, it is indeed important for every business maker to maintain a competitive edge over others. And our favorite search engine ‘Google’ is no different from this league. After boosting over its announcement at the start of the New Year about the up-gradation in its search algorithms, Google recently unveiled its “mobile friendly responsive website update” which perhaps might not be seen as “friendly” move by all. The update was developed typically keeping in mind the increased usage of smartphones in the age. Meaning, while surfing from a smartphone, the Google search results would pop up only the content from websites that are mobile compatible. And those who are yet to upgrade their websites to make them responsive, they are going to see a downward trend in their traffic and also the eventual revenues.
Throwing light on the concept, Google has explained that a site is considered to be mobile friendly if the content on the website is readable without tapping the screen or zooming into it, the tap targets are appropriately spaced, the page is devoid of unplayable content and is in the format of horizontal scrolling. To put it in simple words, the mobile version of a site as expected by Google, should be accessible and easy to handle on a mobile device.
Google says they are bringing up the ranking of mobile friendly pages up the order of search results. Thus, mobile users will now see only those website results at the top line which are capable to automatically fit the text on their mobile screens.
This latest update, as clarified by Google will only affect the rankings of search results popping up on the mobile phones but across all languages globally. Further, this will affect only the content displayed on individual pages of the site and not to the entire websites.
However, this in no way means that mobile friendliness will be the only criteria that will determine the rankings of the search results. Google has posted that they will continue to use a number of signals that will determine the eligibility of any page to stand first in the queue, the intention of the query typed in the search bar being at top most priority.
Experts believe that Google’s this “mobile-first” move is not just to satiate the mobile users, Google is actually securing its place in the bottle-neck competition, especially in the mobile space. It is important to note here that popular mobile versions to the likes of Facebook have been drilling Google’s mobile advertisement business off late. While Google is facing a downward trend with mobile ads, at the same time Facebook is enjoying a bigger market share. Apparently, Google is trying to fill the gap with this mobile friendly concept.
The transition from desktop to mobile:
In spite of the increasing trend in responsive websites, it comes as a surprise that websites of many top notch brands are yet to be converted into the friendly version. However, taking a back foot may not come in easy now. Ahead of the update from Google giving preference to mobile friendly websites, it has now become all the more important to wake up and act.
Not only this, the increase in the usage of mobile (smartphone) users off late, an urgent need of action is mandated now. This steep rise combined with the Google update effect is going to give a hard time to many players.
Google has offered various tools to the webmasters to check the compatibility of their websites with mobile devices viz. Mobile-Friendly Test or the Mobile Usability report in Webmaster Tools. On checking, a pop up warning will appear stating “there may be a significant decrease in mobile traffic from Google Search”, in case the website being tested is not mobile specific.
Benefits of a Responsive website:
First things first, for those who still aren’t clear about the concept of responsive websites, here you go! A responsive website is one which automatically recognizes the device on which it is accessed and fits into the given screen size and resolution. Thus, be it the desktop or the smartphones or the smart TV’s, the website will virtually fit across all these devices.
The benefits of having a responsive websites are not only reaped by Google and the visitors but also by the webmasters. Here are the 5 reasons why a responsive website should be preferred over the others:
Usage and virtual experience
Irrespective of the device accessing the website, the user will enjoy the best virtual experience. While referring to a website on the smartphones, it is handy to ‘double tap’ or ‘pinch and drag’ in order to view, browse and navigate through the contents of the website. However, the level of readability and convenience is considerably reduced in such cases. Especially when filling forms or typing minute details on online portals. Thus, the user feels clumsy and lethargic when using such non-responsive websites. This in turn will boost the number of bounce-rates of your site.
In contrast, a responsive site will get your user engrossed and interested in viewing and scrolling through the contents of the website.
At times, the content on the website including the videos, images or text are specific to various devices. For example, there may a large banner on the desktop version which is linked to several other internal links of your website. Now, for the mobile version, you may prefer smaller thumbnails in place of the big banners. This is possible in case of responsive websites where it is comparatively easy to switch between contents from one platform to another.
Doing away with apps
Talk about mobile accessibility and ‘Apps’ is the answer by many. However, mobile applications turn out to be a cost overhead for many organizations considering the fact that they are platform (OS) specific and have a lot of maintenance and other costs involved.
To save on this, a responsive website can be looked upon as an answer. Be it an Apple device, a Windows phone or an Android device, your “single” site will appear the same throughout and will bring in uniformity and a reduction in cost.
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No duplication of content
As stated earlier, apps or for that matter even OS specific websites will call for duplication of content and maintenance. From images to thumbnails to textual information, every effort towards up-gradation will keep multiplying.
Instead, having a responsive website will make life easy for all. The content will only have to be updated once and all the websites and apps across all devices will accordingly be updated – a big savior of time as well as cost.
Most important – traffic and SEO
The latest Google update will increase the importance of this point even further. The search results from mobiles will considerably increase the traffic source for websites that are mobile-optimized and eventually the revenue generated will be increased. Reports suggest that at times the number of visitors surfing from mobile devices exceeds the number of those accessing from desktops.
Another added advantage of having a single responsive website over multiple platform specific ones is the SEO benefits. Creating links and generating traffic information for a number of sites will be reduced to a single website. Thus, the efforts required for building SEO will also be reduced to a single website. This will also help to the extent that the various links will end up at one particular site, thus taking a departure from redirection.
If not, then?
Well, to say the least, it will not be incorrect to state that responsive websites help to garner more visitors, thus an increase in traffic and revenue, the viewers feel more engaged and associated, and reduces the time and efforts involved in the maintenance of traditional websites.
And with ‘search engine giant,’ Google implementing its update in this direction, it seems this is the right direction and the future of web designing world. And for those who are yet to upgrade their traditional site to the mobile friendly version, (and of course which will now appear less frequently in the Google search results) Google has clarified that once your site is upgraded and made mobile friendly, it will automatically be redirected and start popping up in the search results.