Google’s latest update to its search algorithm has brought attention to the absolute necessity of having a mobile-friendly website for your business.
Yesterday Google rolled out an update that boosted the ranking on mobile-friendly pages, favoring businesses that have already developed their website in a way that helps new customers find them using a mobile device.
The update affects only search rankings on mobile devices and applies to individual pages, not the entire website. So websites with high quality content that are not mobile-friendly can still rank high if the content is good and relevant to a search query.
But does that mean you should feel safe ignoring the customers who are looking for your products services with a mobile device? Of course not… your competitors won’t. With Google’s latest update to its search algorithm, postponing or dropping the ball on addressing your website’s mobile-friendliness is the same as intentionally losing sales leads by hiding your business from many potential customers.
So let’s decide to take action. There are a three mobile configurations that you should be aware of when you approach your web developer to solve this problem for you: 1. Responsive Design, 2. Separate Mobile Website and 3. the Dynamic Content mobile solution. Both responsive design and a separate mobile website setup are fine solutions to handle the mobile user experience. They each have their own strengths and weaknesses.
Responsive design lets you have one URL for a given page and it is simple to administer, but it wastes bandwidth and makes it harder to present a differentiated experience based on context. Separate mobile websites reduce bandwidth, make it simple to create a differentiated experience, and can give you more search query data, but require more administrative time and multiple URLs for a given page.
Dynamic Content Mobile-Friendly Solution
Google supports a third method to handle mobile sites — dynamically serving different HTML on the same URL. We are calling this Dynamic Content for short. This is essentially the same concept behind a separate mobile website, except it uses the same URL for the desktop and eliminates the need for bidirectional tags between desktop and mobile pages.
With dynamic content websites you have one URL for a given page, save on bandwidth, and can create a differentiated experience based on context. For these benefits you lose the extra search query data from the mobile websites, and your administration is simpler than a mobile site, but not as simple as a responsive site.
We achieve this mobile solution through a modification of our self-managed software solution. These modifications include:
- Same number of pages with the same page names on both the desktop and mobile websites.
- Renaming a page on the desktop renames it on mobile and creates a 301 redirect from the old URL to the new one on both.
- A single file gallery that is shared between both sites.
- Title tags, meta tags, Twitter Cards, Open Graph cards, and Scheme tags are pulled from the desktop page if they are not set on mobile.
- Pulls the content from the desktop version of a page if no content was set specifically for the mobile page, allowing you to differentiate content for the mobile experience.
- Automatically pulls the desktops robots.txt and XML Sitemap. Home screen bookmark icons are pulled from desktop if they are not set for mobile.
- Does not include the (unnecessary) bidirectional tags linking the desktop and mobile pages.
Despite them being the same URL, mobile users can still click a link at the bottom of the page to switch back and forth to the desktop and mobile versions of a site. This preference is remembered by the user for future visits.
Our dynamic content solution includes the Vary HTTP header as instructed by Google to instruct their crawler there is a different version of the site based on the device type.
We feel that the Dynamic Content solution is ideal for sites that are primarily interested in marketing their site through social media, email marketing, and search engine marketing, but do not need the extra search engine data.
Whichever mobile solution you prefer, anyone without a mobile-friendly website ought not delay in addressing this problem. The cost of doing nothing is too high.