Yesterday, the Internet changed: Google has implemented its long awaited algorithm changes to search results. From now on, websites that appear in the search results will be evaluated and ranked on a new data point: mobile friendliness.
We have been blogging about how the world is becoming an increasingly mobile place, and that it will continue to be even more so. We've gone so far to consider that perhaps people should no longer consider mobile as a separate category. Many organizations have responded by adopting strategies to align with their customers or end-users' mobile lifestyles. For those who have been procrastinating, the pressure to change and adapt to mobile user has drastically increased today. If you do not have a mobile friendly site, not only your customers will abandon your site due to sub-standard performance, but Google will penalize you with your site's search rankings.
If you are one of the few organizations who have still yet to cater to your mobile users, your business will suffer. Fear not, however, you do have options. If you work with a content delivery network (CDN) vendor, such as Akamai, you can work with them to help ensure your business is well suited for mobile audiences. These solutions will help optimize website performance on a per-user and per-device basis.
In addition, you should use Responsive Web Design (RWD) principles when developing your sites. Sites employing RWD operate on a single code base and render content based on end-user's device characteristics, presenting them with an optimized and consistent experience across all browsers and devices. This is what the Google algorithm is looking at when they apply the label "mobile-friendly."
That said, RWD is not easy and only solves part of the problem. If not implemented properly, RWD can significantly impact performance and page load speed due to over-downloading. Why? Though there is an operational benefit to having a single code base, it also means that mobile devices download the entire page code and then adjust the way its presented based on the respective device capabilities. Without proper RWD implementation, you may end up getting better rankings on Google searches for mobile friendliness, but end up frustrating end users and increasing abandonment rate. It's also important to keep in mind that Google is testing a "slow" label for search results. Soon enough, being mobile-friendly won't be enough, your site will have to perform above certain standards (that Google has yet to make public) or risk getting tagged with the "slow" label.
So, what can you do? Work with web performance professionals to ensure your site is:
1) Optimized to deliver consistent experiences across devices and
2) Fast enough to meet users rising performance expectations
One particular area of focus to help optimize web sites for mobile is images. Akamai has created a reporting tool that can give you quick and easy insight into how well your site is optimized for the delivery of images to mobile devices. You can request a full Performance Insights report here.
In the new mobile world, delivering consistent, high performing experiences isn't just an option, it's a necessity.
- - - - -
Berk Veral is Senior Product Marketing Manager at Akamai