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Google Changes afoot - How responsive is your website?

24/03/2015
Lindsay
Lindsay

It’s no secret amongst the web community that Google has been encouraging webmasters to utilise responsive website design since 2012. The biggest change has come this month with Google announcing that it will begin to penalise websites that are not responsive, in its mobile search engine.

This change is set to come into force in both Google.com and Google.co.uk from 1st April 2015. Most webmasters will have now received a reminder within Webmaster Tools to ask them to submit a mobile friendly site. Sites that are not considered to be mobile friendly will be penalised in mobile search results.

The impact of this change is considerable for sites that rely heavily on mobile traffic. For static sites, the change will have little day to day impact on the desktop rankings, however it is likely that we will begin to see correlations between desktop and mobile search results as the web continues to become more mobile.

What is a responsive website?

A responsive website is a website which responds to the browser in which it is viewed. In other words, if the website is viewed on a tablet then it will scale down to tablet resolution. Likewise if the site is viewed on a smartphone, then the site will scale into a single column so that the user can easily view the website content.

Many web users confuse the concept of a mobile site with that of a responsive site. In days gone by, developers may have built a desktop site as well as mobile website. The two websites would sit side by side and would be shown to the user based on their chosen device.

With a responsive site, the website content management system is set to scale the desktop site to a pre-defined look and feel based on the device used to access the site. This is fundamentally different from having a mobile site, as the data which is displayed does not change – it is simply displayed in a more suitable format for the web user.

What happens if you don’t upgrade your website by the deadline?

Websites that don’t meet Google’s responsive guidelines by 1st April 2015 will be penalised in mobile search rankings. Whilst there is yet to be any announcement on how mobile searches will affect desktop ranking performance, it is likely that there will be a long term impact.

The simple solution is to upgrade the website core to a new responsive template. Most Content Management Systems have several hundred approved responsive website themes. If you require something more bespoke, then you will need to speak to a website developer who has the skills to create bespoke responsive websites.

If you need help and advice regarding moving your website from a static theme to an integrated responsive website, then contact the Geeks who would be delighted to help. 

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