The effects of Google’s new algorithm and why it’s vital to have a mobile-friendly website

mobile-friendly website

Tina Sadeghi

Account Manager

Posted on May 12, 2015

If there is one key digital message of 2015, it is this: ignore mobile technology at your peril. Sound a little extreme? Good. It really is that critical.

Mobile use now influences every moment of every interaction across every sector, whether we realise it at the time or not. If you’re trying to engage with people digitally – any people – then chances are they will be responding through a handheld device, or will do at some point in your business relationship.

Current stats show that over a third of all web traffic now happens via phones or tablets, with users often switching devices multiple times a day, even mid-task. Studies show that people are more likely to make spontaneous, functional decisions via mobiles, use tablets for recreation, and get down to more focused tasks via desktop, for example. But smartphones are the one device used by owners consistently throughout the day and for the widest variety of purposes. Handheld use is predicted to overtake desktop use entirely in 2015, but once the race evens out, the truth is impossible to dismiss: mobile culture is here to stay.

What’s more important to realise is that this isn’t just incidental evidence anymore. The decisions users are making about how to access digital information are changing the very backbone of the web itself.

What does this mean for you?

As a direct result of changing usage, Google has implemented a new algorithm that fundamentally changes how web pages are ranked and listed on their search engine, and, as a consequence, how visible those pages – and organisations – are online.

Rolled out from 21st April 2015, the algorithm means that web pages which are mobile-friendly now score a significantly higher page ranking than web pages which are not. This means that if a user is searching for keywords you’d usually hope would lead them to your website, but your website isn’t mobile-friendly, they’re unlikely to find you in their results.

Put simply, all that hard work you’ve done on your SEO is going to mean very little if your website isn’t rewarding to use across all devices. Mobile-friendly web builds – web pages designed to fit and adapt to the device they’re accessed on without losing appeal or usability – are now as crucial to your business as having a web presence in the first place.

More than page ranking

But it isn’t just about page ranking and search result traffic. Making sure your website is mobile-friendly has wider benefits too.

A website that is slick, attractive and allows users to achieve their objectives quickly and easily shows that you care about that user’s experience: it shows them that they matter. We all know that positive user journeys are a key factor in successful marketing, service delivery and sales, and if that’s true, it should remain true whatever device they’re using. If evidence shows that users prefer to use their phones to complete certain tasks, we should be rewarding that with seamless functionality when they try. That way they’re far more likely to come back.

Top quality, mobile-responsive websites inspire a sense of authority and popularity, too. Users are drawn to organisations that they feel understand them, and that demonstrate they’ve got the finger on the pulse.  Neglecting your web build makes it all too easy for competitors to take the edge. Those appealing deals and incentives aren’t going to go far if audiences get turned off by an outdated, clunky web presence, even if only a year or two behind the times.

If you want to be seen as credible, modern and reliable, your website needs to keep pace.

Next steps for your mobile-friendly website

Google have produced a comprehensive guide for organisations who need to rethink their web builds in response to both the new algorithms and to the wider changes in our digital culture. It’s also made available a simple mobile-friendly test feature where you can input your web page URLS and find out how Google will view it under its new metrics.

If you do find you need to make changes, working with a specialist financial services digital agency who have a skilled understanding of both responsive design and user experience (UX) design will help make sure your web build doesn’t just focus on improving page ranking, but taps into all the additional benefits that mobile-friendly sites can offer. Google’s changes actually provide us all with a positive opportunity – to go back and think about the way our users might interact with our websites and digital projects, and really give them the edge.

And if you’d like to see an example of great practice and a mobile-friendly, device-responsive website in action? Well, we’re proud to say you’re looking at one. Here at Talisman, we want to be able to show what works, not just talk about it. If you’re reading this on a desktop, come and test us out on a handheld device and see for yourself how a mobile-friendly website can enhance your experience.

If you are unsure whether your website is mobile-friendly, feel free to contact us for a website review.