Do you have a different website for mobile users? Time to go responsive

As we mentioned in a previous article in November 2016 Google announced that its index was going mobile first. Meaning your website would be ranked by what was on the mobile version of your website.

When is mobile first going to be implemented?

In March 2017 Google’s Gary Illyes said at Search Engine Land’s SMX West Conference “The team behind the mobile-first index wants it to launch this year. We’re still experimenting. We don’t have a timeline. It could be a few months or quarters, but it’s definitely not weeks [away]. Don’t freak out, especially if you have a responsive site.”

At the SMX Advanced conference in June Illyes said “We have some ideas for when this will launch, but it’s probably many quarters away. Our engineers’ timeline was initially end of 2017. Right now, we think more 2018. ” ( http://searchengineland.com ) So Mobile first isn’t imminent but it’s not far off.

I have a responsive site; do I need to do anything?

If you have a responsive website this means that you are showing the same website to all users on all devices and screen sizes. A responsive website, as the name suggests means that the website will respond to the device it is being shown on and adjusts its layout accordingly (You can read more about responsive websites here). If you have a separate mobile website the content may be different. When Google makes the switch to mobile first for its indexing you could see your Search Engine Ranking change and its likely this would be for the worse.

John Myers from DeepCrawl said at the Search Leeds 2017 Conference that “Responsive Design is optimal for mobile first. A responsive design is the optimal setup for the mobile first indexing, as it avoids the issues of different content and links on your mobile pages” You can view the slides for his presentation here:  https://www.slideshare.net/Branded3/searchleeds-2017-jon-myers-chief-growth-office-deep-crawl-prepare-your-website-for-mobilefirst-indexing

So, if you have a website that is responsive you don’t need to worry at the moment.

I don’t know what type of site I have!

If you are unsure as to how your website is set up for mobile users the best thing to do is look at your website on a mobile device. If you see the same layout as on your desktop site and have to zoom in to read anything, your site is not responsive and you do not have a mobile website.

If when viewing your website on a mobile device you see that it looks very different and the web address in the address looks different from your normal domain name (e.g. our domain name is cybermill.co.uk, and if we had a different mobile site [which we don’t!], it might look like mobile.cybermill.co.uk), then your site is most likely using a different version of your website for mobile devices. This is called a mobile website – not a responsive site.

If your site is responsive. You will see the same version of your site but across all devices, the site may look different but it is the same website. The fastest way to tell if your site is responsive is to open it in your web browser of choice such as Chrome, Firefox or Edge and make sure to do this on a desktop. Then take your mouse cursor to the bottom right corner for the browser, click and drag to resize the browser window. You should see the content layout change and adapt to the browser window size, this is a responsive website. Try it with this website to see what I mean.

What’s that… you don’t even have a mobile site?

The best thing to do if you have a website that works well on desktops but hasn’t been optimised for mobile or tablets is to go responsive. In most cases we can adapt an existing site to be responsive, however this isn’t our preferred or the best way of doing things. If your site isn’t responsive we would recommend looking at having a new website built, where we can design it from scratch with mobile users in mind. This doesn’t suit all budgets and so a responsive adaptation can be a good interim fix.

If you’d like to discuss your website and how to move forward regarding mobile first please feel free to give us a call on 01904 720 999.