Does Not Having a Mobile Site Affect Your SEO?
Like many others, one of the first questions I ask when it comes to the latest and greatest SEO best practices is WWMCD (what would Matt Cutts do?). So let’s start with an important, recent quote from the Google poster boy:
“Mobile is going to surprise a lot of people. Be sure you look at how your site looks and performs on mobile.”
Cutts said this back in March of this year at an SMX session called, “What’s Needed for SEO Success in 2013 and Beyond”, and clearly showed he could have a future in politics with the way he dodged revealing any real spoilers. As we’ve learned since then, a big part of what he was referring to is the fact that Google will be making changes to smartphone search rankings for sites that are “misconfigured for smartphone users”. If you’re one of the many, many, many marketers who has yet to properly address your website’s mobile experience, this should be a huge wakeup call.
Responsive design and mobile websites are nothing new. And to this point, the value and reason behind making sure that your website offers a mobile friendly experience has primarily been supported by the steady rise of mobile traffic (which tripled worldwide from 2010 to 2012) that every marketer has seen in recent years. Simple logic, really: more users are visiting your site on mobile devices, so you need a website experience that’s optimized for these devices.
But now Google has made having a mobile optimized experience even more important by making it a key ranking factor for searches performed on mobile devices. After all, Google has been setting up for this for quite some time, seeing as how search results on mobile devices have been different from desktop results for a while now.
So does not having a mobile site affect your SEO? Absolutely. Although for now only searches performed on mobile devices are going to be directly impacted. But Google has time and again in recent years shown us how much they value and pay attention to the mobile web:
- They already have bots that crawl sites as a mobile device.
- They’ve stated that responsive “is Google’s recommended configuration”.
- They use page load speed in rankings.
- At this year’s I / O Developer Conference, they wowed the crowd with a demonstration of Google Now.
- They even created an awesome tool for everyone to get more stats and demographic info on mobile phone usage across the world.
Clearly, there’s already a ton of emphasis on giving users the mobile experience they want, but where does it stop?
This mobile pattern is a big, flashing warning sign, similar to the one that many people chose to ignore with the Penguin and Panda updates.
As Google loves to remind the world, they look at search from the user perspective. When it comes to mobile, if the content on your site serves its purpose and performs well with users hitting it on different devices, then this change shouldn’t have an impact on your rankings. But if your site lacks a good mobile experience, and you have competitors with great responsive sites, Google is likely going to use these ranking changes to deliver your competitors’ sites instead of yours on certain devices.
Even with this change , the real reason to make sure your site has a great mobile experience shouldn’t be to satisfy Google - it should be for the users. But if you haven’t already addressed it, expect a change in your rankings on mobile searches on Google. You’ve been warned! Matt Cutts really does say it best when he was asked about how to get started in SEO: “Google wants what users want.” So make sure you’re giving it to them.