mobile-aware search results

Screen shot from my iPhone highlighting mobile-aware results

I’ve said this before: “If you built your website two or more years ago, you probably need to rebuild it.” Why? It’s likely that your website is not mobile-aware.

So what’s the big deal about this?

Raise your hand if you have a smart phone. Mm hmm.

Raise your other hand if you have more than one smart mobile device (a tablet too?). Yup.

The number of mobile phones exceeded the number of people on the planet last year. Tablets are nearly ubiquitous now. As an example, in what is often thought of as a traditionally low-tech world, our church pastor carries her iPad with her everywhere to do e-mail, blogging, etc. A recent visit to our church from a religious leader from the nearby Hindu temple even had his iPad with him.

So that’s fine, but again, what’s the big deal? If you look at your web traffic in Google Analytics, I’m betting that you’ll find that 25% or more of the visitors to your website are on some sort of mobile device. If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, you’re losing business. People who do a search on their phone or tablet want to have a good experience. If they have to pinch and squeeze to get your website to fit or expand it out just to try to work your non-mobile-friendly menu, they’ll get frustrated and go elsewhere.

The other big thing about this trend is that Google is now paying a lot of attention to this:

  • They are notifying people in Google Webmaster Tools with a warning that their websites are not mobile-friendly, and have been for several months (have you checked yours?).
  • Search results on a mobile device are showing which sites are mobile-friendly or not, so the user can choose which site to go to for a good experience. As an example, see the screen shot above when I was testing to see if our church website was showing up for a specific search result.
  • Finally, on April 21, Google is going to make being mobile-friendly a bigger ranking criteria for search results. It’s going to be on a page-by-page basis, and will be instant. If they reindex a page and notice that it’s mobile-aware, it automatically gets a boost.

What does that ultimately mean? It means that Google wants people to have a great experience no matter what device they’re on, and they have a carrot (or stick) to get you to do this.

Getting a Mobile-Aware Website

How do you know if your website is mobile-aware? You can easily test this by going to Google’s mobile-friendly tester. They’ll tell you if you’re good to go. You can also look at this Screenfly tester to see what your website looks like in different resolutions.

If you’ve determined that you’re not mobile-aware, self-hosted WordPress sites (website and/or blog) can implement one of many available templates to get it all set up with little effort. I’m a big fan of the StudioPress WordPress themes, and most of these are mobile-aware. For under $100, you can swap out your design for a fresh theme. They’re easy to customize the colors and other features, and StudioPress even gives you step-by-step instructions to get it all set up properly. (We use the Executive theme on this blog.)

There are many others like WooThemes, iThemes, and even free themes from If you’re on a different platform like Joomla, Drupal or others, most of them have designs that are fully mobile-aware too.

So start working on getting your website set up to be mobile-friendly, and benefit when Google makes the change in a few weeks.

What are your thoughts on this trend? Tell me in the comments below.