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Why Does Google Prefer Mobile Optimised Websites?

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A mobile responsive or mobile optimised or mobile friendly website refers to a website layout and page contents that adapt to reduced width displays such as a phone. Rather than having separate individual design elements that are built for a mobile site, responsive design focuses on a core code that aligns and situates itself to flow within the parameters of the device itself (ref: Neil, Quicksprout, How to optimize responsive design for conversions).

How a website design responds to changes in screen size

Visualise the transition of screen sizes like this…

Responsive Web Design

This makes it easier to read and faster to scroll vertically through the content of the page without having to pinch and zoom the display. Responsive web design is the practice of building a website suitable to display neatly on a wide range of devices and screen sizes on mobiles, phablets, tablets, laptops and desktops. Responsive web design is focused around providing an intuitive and gratifying experience for everyone who visits the web page.

What does mobile responsive design look like?

Typically we assume that people browsing to a mobile website are likely to want immediate access to the phone, email and street address of a business so that they can either quickly call them or cause their phone to show a map or directions. This is why the top row of a mobile site tends to include a phone and email icon and the address if relevant.

The menu bar is usually collapsed into a small icon, often like a set of horizontal bars, fondly referred to as a ‘hamburger’.

Top of a mobile website

Google gives mobile optimised sites precedence when searching mobile devices

Google prefers mobile browser optimised websites for people searching on their mobile device and will typically give websites that are mobile optimised a better position in the search results compared to those that aren’t mobile responsive.

As Google puts itWhen it comes to search on mobile devices, users should get the most relevant and timely results, no matter if the information lives on mobile-friendly web pages or apps… This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.

There is a Google webpage that will test mobile compatibility for you, here. Below is an example of what you will see if a website is not deemed mobile friendly by Google.

Mobile-Friendly Test Fail

If a website is considered mobile friendly then the test result will look more like the following.

Mobile Friendly Test

If your website isn’t mobile responsive but does have a separate mobile website then it may also get a positive result. Keep in mind that Google hasn’t said that there will be any effect on the desktop browsing search results. So if you have a website that isn’t mobile responsive it’s possible that you might not notice much difference to your sales or enquiries, if, and this is a big if, your enquiries are coming from sources other than mobile search.

Why does mobile browsing matter?

This might all seem a bit academic if you are not using your phone to browse the web but since 2014 it has been common for over half of the visitors to a website to be using a mobile device, and in Australia a majority of that is iphone and ipad users.

It’s because of you and your iphone, well, not you specifically but as the rise in web browsing on mobile phones and tablets and the prevalence of fast 3G and 4G wireless connections improves on the whole people are opening more websites on their mobiles than ever before.

This increase in mobile browsing leads Google to respond to the demand for a good mobile search experience, otherwise eventually people would stop using Google and change to a search engine that preferences mobile friendly websites.

Is your website mobile optimised?

A well optimised website is going to work more effectively for your business or organisation as an enquiry magnet. If your website doesn’t look great on your phone get in touch and see what we can do to help.