Google mobile-friendly update has been recently the hottest topic in the SEO world. The “mobilegeddon” has feared a lot of website owners during the past few weeks. That update, that has been released on the 22th of April, concerns mobile websites.

Ranking criterias have changed in favor of more mobile-friendly websites. As Google wants to expand the “use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal.”

But don’t be afraid, it’s just one of the multiple updates Google has launched and studies have shown that it won’t drastically affect your rankings if your website is not optimized for mobile. But you should definitely be aware of its impact.
Today 30% of traffic comes from mobile devices, so making your website mobile friendly can push you ahead of your competitors.

But what does “mobile friendly” mean?

In order to be mobile friendly, a website must be optimized for mobile devices. This concerns text size, image size and space between links. A user shouldn’t be forced to zoom or scroll horizontally to be able to read a text, see images or navigate on a website.
This comes logically with Google’ wishes to offer a better user experience. Websites which are not optimized for mobile often lead to a poor user experience and a high bounce rate.

How can I make my website mobile friendly?

A mobile web page needs to meet the following criteria:

  • Avoid software or plugins which are not compatible on mobile devices like Flash
  • Make pages load in less than a second on mobile devices
  • Use texts that are readable on small screens
  • Size your content to the screen in order to avoid users to scroll horizontally or zoom
  • Insert suffisant space between links to help people tap them

Should I prefer Responsive or Mobile?

In order to make your website mobile friendly, there are two solutions available. Creating a mobile version of your desktop version or adapting your existing one to different devices. In both cases, you need to know the advantages and drawbacks of each solution.

A responsive website is a website that adapts itself to every device. It means that the content adjusts itself to the width and height of the screen. A responsive website will also adapt the menu, sidebars, images and even the structure to be visible without any zoom or scroll on a tablet, a smartphone, a television or a computer. The whole web design needs to be thought in terms of devices.

What are the advantages?

  • There is a few upkeeps to do
  • There is a unique URL
  • The adaptability provides a full ergonomy and a good user experience
  • The SEO is preserved as the different size of an image is a great plus for the search engine image results
  • The indexing is better. Thanks to its adaptability, every page has a unique address whatever the version and the inbound links are pointing to the same URL. It allows economy of scale since one modification is necessary for a responsive design website.
  • There is a good return on investment. Even if the cost of development is higher than just to add a mobile version, a responsive website is targeting a wider audience, through more devices. Thus the information is found more easily and the conversion rate increases.

What are the drawbacks?

  • The load time is higher
  • The development takes time. Each device has its own constraints. So it is necessary to think of each parameter to offer the best user experience
  • It demands more technical skills like HTML5, CSS3, etc and more specific skills to apply to each device
  • Tests are taking more time because it is mandatory to verify if each point is working on each device
  • The creativity is limited since the technical constraints are important

A mobile website is a classic website on mobile. It means that a second version of the website has been developed for mobile devices. A mobile website needs to be available on every mobile device regardless its operating system or its technical specificities.

What are the advantages ?

  • A mobile website is independant from the main website. Thus, it can offer a fully optimized interface with its own pages, contents and functionalities.
  • The user experience can really go further as a mobile website can embed natives functionalities like games, augmented reality, etc.
  • The page speed is very good

What are the drawbacks?

  • The maintenance of a mobile website is separated from the classic website. A risk of different contents can occur.
  • If you develop a web and a mobile site the development takes more time than fif develop just one responsive website.
  • Mobile websites are often limited version of the classic ones; they do not offer all the functionalities.

What tools can I use to help me ?

If you need further details on technical features, check out that well explained article of Distilled.

In clear, if your website meets all the requirements, Google will display in the SERPS a mobile-friendly label just like this one:

mobile friendly label SERPS