We’ve been hearing about it for a while – that Google is unleashing the mobile-first index. As of last month, it is finally happening.
If you’re a Webmaster, then in the past few weeks you have probably started getting the notifications from Google Search Console informing you that mobile-first indexing is enabled for your site.
The e-mail describes whether your site has a mobile version that is comparable to desktop based on their analysis – a nice move on Google’s part as they are often so cryptic.
The most important thing to understand is that it will now be absolutely important to have a mobile version of your site, or even better (in most cases), implement a responsive website design.
We’ve known the importance of having responsive web design for a while now, but with Google’s mobile-first index now officially being rolled out, it is of absolute necessity.
What is a Responsive Website?
Responsive web design and development is an approach that allows websites to adapt to a user’s screen size – whether they are on a desktop computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.
This is different than having a “mobile friendly website” as with a responsive design, the content on your site is dynamic and will change based on the screen size. The following are common changes you will see:
- Condensed navigation.
- Images optimized – some even hidden on smaller screens.
- Padding and spacing changes.
- Changes to columns – items being stacked in a single column compared to a multi-column design on desktop.
Mobile-friendly design means that the website is created to work exactly the same across all devices.
Content remains static.
Navigation is simplified.
Overall, this is still good for mobile users.
However, having a site that is dynamic and responsive to the screen size allows you to not lose out on any features that give your users a great experience as they navigate your site.
The team here at MARSWorks put together a list of six benefits of having a responsive website design.
1) Organic Ranking
Ranking well in Google is the golden ticket to free traffic for your website.
More visibility in the search engine results page leads to more traffic which results in more conversions and sales for your business.
There are many strategies and techniques involved in optimizing your website for search engines (mainly Google, but still applicable to others, such as Bing).
All SEO professionals follow guidelines set out by the search engine companies themselves, along with tricks and tips found by experts in the industry.
There are many factors that are considered in Google’s algorithms and every unique search weighs these factors differently.
Essentially, any recommendations or hints Google provide for ranking better should probably be used.
Responsive websites have always been recommended by Google for ranking higher in the search results and for this reason, it is considered industry best practice.
Think about it, if your competitors are all using responsive websites and you aren’t, Google will show those websites before yours to ensure their users have the best experience no matter what device they happen to be on.
If Google recognizes (and they will) that mobile users are bouncing off of your website due to poor user experience, then you will automatically fall off the charts.
At the bottom of the line, that means you are missing out on sales and conversions for your business.
2) Mobile Traffic
It’s not unusual to see higher bounce rates from mobile traffic if your site design isn’t rendering well on mobile screens.
Having a responsive design allows your site to adjust to the size of the user’s screen. This will lead to increases in mobile traffic engagement.
There is an obvious reason why Google has decided to roll out the mobile first index.
More and more Google searches are being made on mobile devices than desktop, so you do not want to miss out on this opportunity.
3) User Experience
User experience is everything when it comes to creating a website that will represent your business in the digital world.
It’s been said before, if mobile users are not having a great experience they are not going to engage with your website the way you want them to.
So, having a responsive web design will ensure that your users have a great experience no matter what device they are using.
Google realizes this and wants to provide searchers with websites that will provide the best experience.
4) Lower Costs for Maintenance
If you currently are or are considering creating and maintaining a separate mobile version of your website, things get much more complicated than just having one responsive website.
The benefit of having one responsive website is simple in this regard.
If you have two separate websites you are therefore paying to maintain two websites, when you could be paying to maintain and manage just one.
5) Faster Web Pages
Google states that “53% of visits are abandoned if a mobile site takes longer than 3 seconds to load.”
Having a faster loading web page is one of the key ranking factors in the search engine results pages.
Responsive web pages will load faster for mobile users ensuring that you are not missing out on potentially useful traffic just because your page isn’t loading fast enough.
6) Higher Conversion Rates
Websites should exist with a purpose.
That could be directly selling a product or service or simply landing a lead (which eventually turns into a sale).
At the end of the day, you want to bring relevant traffic to your website that will have interest and eventually convert.
If you do not have a website that is responsive to whatever device your user is using, then you are intentionally missing out on valuable business.
Websites that are responsive will lead to higher conversion rates as more users can interact with your content and enter your sales funnel whether they are on a desktop one day or a mobile phone on the bus commute to work the next.
The mobile-first index is here.
Google has recognized that more and more people are searching the web with their mobile devices and they have responded appropriately.
They want website owners to present mobile users with mobile-friendly sites and rightfully so.
By adopting a responsive web design, Google will have a site they are confident in presenting to their searchers and you will increase engagement from mobile users.
This will only help your business utilize your website’s fullest potential and will eventually lead to more sales and conversions.
If you are lost in the ever-evolving digital world but need to get your brand out there in front of your target audience, MARSWorks can help. We’re your digital production studio and can ensure your unique online presence is there to strengthen your brand and grow your business. Contact us today!