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Avoid Google’s new Mobile Penalty

If you have a website and you’re on the pulse of the online world, you’ve probably heard why it’s so important to have a mobile friendly website.

Until now, it’s been entirely up to website owners to see the value in committing to mobile.  But starting April 21, 2015, Google will be “expanding” their use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal for mobile searches. In other words, if you don’t have a mobile or responsive website yet, you may find it more difficult to rank in search results after April 21.

So if you’ve been putting off getting your websites reworked, it’s time to get it done.

Here are your options for making your existing website mobile-friendly:

  1. Entirely separate site that users are redirected to, ie. mobile.yourdomain.com
    – many apps use this method and auto-generate a website based on your primary website
    – may need to be manually updated, effectively doubling your work when updating your website
    – creates a secondary URL for the same content, so you have to be sure you use Canonical URLs to instruct search engines on which version you want ranked.
  2. Code integrated on your website to display a different mobile layout using the same pages
    – a decent option, but essentially a “fix” for a built-for-desktop site and may not cover all situations
    – more code that has to be loaded, and doesn’t cut down the amount of data loaded  for mobile
  3. Responsive layout where you have one site that self-adjusts for mobile, tablets and desktops
    – uses less code and fewer server resources (translation: better page speed)
    – designed to address browsers of all sizes

If resources are limited or you’re already pending a redesign, you can use one of the first two options as a stopgap for the April 21 deadline.

Responsive design is really the best and most future-proof option. Fortunately most designers and developers are already familiar with responsive coding at this point, and it’s not hard to find folks that can revamp your existing site.

If your website was built in recent years, you may even find that the frameworks and underlying code have already been set up for responsive layouts, and all that’s actually needed is a few small tweaks by your coder!

Use the Mobile Friendly Test inside Google Webmaster Tools to help you and your team determine the exact steps needed to pass Google’s mobile-friendly test.

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