On the 21st of April, Google will roll out their “mobile friendly” update. Those who don’t weed through SEO articles will probably be nonplussed; searches will continue, your site will remain intact and the world will keep spinning. What’s important is that the responsive website is now a defined ranking signal. This move was long-awaited, and nobody should be caught off guard.
While the update has a calendar launch, Google have been seeding this for a while. You might have noticed a ‘mobile friendly’ sign tacked on to search results on your devices. This sign is a medal proudly worn by modern websites. From an SEO perspective, it tells Google which sites are aware of current trends, are proactive and whose information is most accessible. In their eyes, a mobile friendly website is more likely to serve the relevant material to a search query. Google’s move separates old and new in a way that’s made the SEO community breathe a sigh of relief. As I’ve said before, responsive design is not a novelty. In this day and age, it should be viewed as a given.
Preparation For Mobile Friendly Rankings
Benevolent and friendly as they are, Google have introduced a Mobile Friendly Testing Tool to help web masters check their site ticks the right boxes. Follow the testing tool, then clear any loose ends by reading the developers’ account of responsive web design. Between these two resources, you should have all you need to get your site ready for the phone-friendly rollout.
Responsive VS. Mobile Friendly
I should point out that these two terms, while related, are not completely interchangeable. I would define mobile friendly as the strict criteria set by Google and other search engines – are viewports correctly declared? Is the font rendered a certain size? Does the website avoid pinch-zoom?
Responsive design, on the other hand, is the philosophical approach, taking not only boxes and font sizes into account but aesthetics, innovation and common sense. Championed by the likes of Ethan Marcotte, it’s a more human approach to web design and cannot be dictated by a checklist. A website is not wholly responsive, in the same way a film cannot be objectively cinematic.
By Bruce Sigrist in: SEO Tips