On April 21st, Google will start ranking sites based on mobile-friendliness.

What does that mean exactly? It means that sites that look and function well on mobile devices will rank much better in search engine results when users are searching from a phone or tablet. The point of this change isn’t to punish sites that aren’t friendly to mobile users. The point is to make mobile search results relevant and useful to mobile users.

Mobile-friendly design (whether that’s a responsive site or a redirect to a mobile version of a site) features navigation that’s easy to access using a touch screen. With mobile searches poised to overtake desktop searches in 2015, mobile-friendly design is more important than ever.

Mobile users expect sites to look and perform like apps, and Google is going to reward the sites that rise to that expectation.

Don’t be scared. This is a good thing. Here’s why:

Locals are looking for you on mobile devices.

What happens when you’re out on the town and suddenly craving cupcakes? You pull out your phone and Google cupcakes. Google’s algorithms (basically, digital insects crawling all over the internet evaluating and organizing content) spit out a bunch of sites for you to choose from. You tap on the first or second result, tap on the map, and in minutes you’re ordering the cupcake of your dreams.

Now, consider this as a business owner. Improved rankings for your mobile-friendly site means you’re converting more traffic into leads and buyers. This is a really good thing.

Mobile-friendly sites get it done.

When you’re designing, writing, and developing your site for mobile users, there’s no room for extraneous content. Focusing on responsive design helps you narrow the focus of your site and what you want it to achieve.

Google’s improved mobile search rankings reward clean sites and give users the information they need quickly and intuitively. This is an excellent reminder that all sites — whether they’re being accessed on mobile devices or desktop computers — should be created with the user’s best interests in mind. When visitors find it easy to use your website, they’re more likely to do business with you. Mobile-friendly design helps everyone have a better internet.

Desktop searches won’t be affected —  yet.

Not mobile-friendly yet? You don’t need to panic. You’re not going to drop off of the face of Google immediately.

But your rankings will suffer on mobile searches — and considering how many users are searching from their devices, that’s a huge chunk of potential visitors. (We are seeing averages between 40-60% of users on a site coming from mobile devices, depending on the industry.)

big-sea-mobileIf your site isn’t responsive, consider these changes a wake-up call. You have some time to improve your site’s performance on mobile devices. As soon as those improvements are made, you’ll be able to tap into the billions of users who are searching from their phones and tablets.

Not sure how your site looks and performs for mobile visitors? Get a free mobile-friendliness evaluation. We’re happy to help you make your site accessible to mobile users — not only because Google thinks you should, but because we recognize the value of a beautiful mobile experience.