Understanding the Difference in Search Engine Algorithms and Why Your Business Requires a Mobile Friendly Website

Ask a random selection of web users and most people will have a smartphone, rather than a laptop or desktop, on their person. Since 2015, mobile searches have surpassed desktop searches on Google, and Google, along with other search engines, is taking measures to ensure mobile friendly websites are receiving their own guidelines to keep up with changing search demographics.

As each year’s mobile technology becomes more user-friendly, it is estimated almost two-thirds of web searches are performed using a mobile device. Of these searches, approximately 94% of queries are performed using Google, making it crucial for businesses to have a mobile-friendly website that ranks high on relevant Google searches.

What Is the Mobile Index Split?

Beginning in 2015, Google released a new algorithm which ranked websites based on their ability to be both desktop and mobile friendly. This policy caused websites to gain or lose positions; based on their ability to reach all search customers. As more businesses either avoided or embraced this technology, in 2017, Google then further created new search guidelines which resulted in two separate indexes: traditional search (desktop) and mobile.

This change affects businesses from an analytics point of view. Whereas there used to be only one page position per keyword/search term to be concerned with, now a business must see where they rank for that same search term or keyword on both a traditional desktop search and a mobile search. Since more searches are being performed on mobile devices, Google sees mobile as a priority and while desktop searches are still important, precedence should be given to developing, maintaining, and testing a responsive, mobile friendly website.

How Speed Factors In

In addition to having separate ranking in both desktop and mobile searches, Google also prioritizes websites by their speed. A website that is properly keyworded, indexed, relevant, and loads quickly will rank much higher than one that lacks one or more of these factors. This is why testing is very important; especially if your target market is located in different areas of the U.S. or globally.

Two Critical Performance Guidelines

To ensure your businesses’ website performs well in mobile searches, two critical performance guidelines must be maintained. The first is accelerated loading speed. As previously mentioned, one of the factors Google uses in its algorithm is page loading speed. This is due to the site abandonment mobile users perform when faced with a slow loading site. When factoring in advertising budgets, marketing, and technical fees for a mobile friendly website, speed and visitor retention goes hand-in-hand. With conversions as the ultimate goal, having a visitor stay on your site, as long as possible, betters your chances of attaining a new or returning customer.

Finally, employing responsive web design will ensure your visitors have a comparable experience when using a mobile device, as if they were using a desktop device. Assuming a desktop site will easily convert to a mobile site will not yield the same results for the user. To ensure a great user experience, sites need to be optimized for both desktop and mobile. Remember, Google crawls sites to check for relevant content. If a site loses some content, it could negatively affect search rankings.

As more and more changes occur, it is imperative businesses become proactive, rather than reactive to ensure their desktop and mobile friendly websites both perform well on search engines.

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