Yes, you read that right.
Come 21st April, 2015, if your website is not mobile-friendly, Google will penalize it for not being responsive and your search engine rankings will get severely affected.
Before you start panicking and making calls to whoever you think can help in the situation, take a long breath, relax and read what we have to say in this edition we have called “Google Non Responsive Penalty Saver Guide!”.
Although, it may seem shocking to many, this move by Google was not something which was completely unanticipated. In order to make things better for the growing number of mobile internet users, Google made the following announcement through their official blog.
Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.
While Google has only now made it official, the idea of responsive websites improving your search engine rankings has already been doing the rounds of the internet since the past few years.
Now, for all those uninitiated souls who are still unaware of what the difference between adaptive and responsive websites is (welcome to the 21st century!), here is a quick explanation.
One of the primary features of responsive web design is the use of CSS3 module. This enables the creation of a flexible grid around which the content and images can adjust in size, along with the browser.
Confused? Let me explain in simpler terms.
A responsive website is the one which is flexible enough to fit any desktop, tablet or mobile screen, regardless of its size. The design responds automatically, according to the browser window.
On the other hand, in case of adaptive websites, the designers have to design a webpage in different sizes individually for desktop and mobile versions. Unlike responsive websites, they do not respond to the browser window once they are loaded.
If your website is responsive, it will not require to have various versions for different screen sizes.
Meaning, less of a headache for your designer and more control and power to you!
From this explanation, I am sure you have figured out HOW responsive websites are more advantageous.
Now, lets move on to WHY they are so much in demand.
Unless you have a desk job that requires you to sit in front of a computer 10 hours in a day, I am sure you use your cell phone more often than your laptop or desktop computer to access the internet. If yes, then you are just one of the many, many who do the same, all over the world.
In fact, according to recent reports, majority of the population uses their cell phones to access the internet. And this percentage is only increasing everyday!
That brings us back to the question,
Why are responsive websites becoming more and more popular?
Here are some of the reasons…..
#1. Mobile Shopping
Let me ask you a question..
When was the last time you actually went to a mall or shop to buy your clothes or any other daily usage goods?
Unless you are someone who is extremely fond of standing in a line for hours together in a mall, I am sure you have tasted the sweet fruit of online, mobile shopping at some point or the other.
Not only do you save loads of energy that otherwise gets wasted in staggering through the mall, searching for your desired products, you also save a lot of money which may otherwise get spent on travelling and parking expenses.
With an increasing number of people resorting to shopping only through digital means, it is only natural for online retailers to have responsive websites to attract more customers and give them a good shopping experience.
#2. Social Media
We are a generation that interacts with other people, more through social media than any other means of communication.
Whether it’s FaceBook, Twitter and LinkedIn, or MySpace, Instagram and YouTube, everyone, regardless of which part of the world he/she comes from, has an account on one or many of these social media platforms.
And how do majority of them connect to these social networking websites?
Yes, you guessed it right, through their cell phones.
With the entire world going gaga over social networking, it is little wonder why all these websites went responsive quite a long time ago.
#3. Improved SEO
As you must know by now, Google loves responsive websites!
And why wouldn’t it? Any website that gives a good user experience, is bound to be appreciated by the search engines. Let me explain this to you in some detail.
When your website is responsive, it will have a single URL structure. This will mean that Googlebot does not have to put in much effort while indexing your website. Moreover, a responsive design is proven to have a faster loading time as compared to the adaptive one, which is another way in which it could benefit your website.
Result : Better search engine rankings and more traffic!
In other words, a responsive website may indirectly boost the search engine rankings, traffic, speed and ultimately, the revenue of your business.
#4. Reduced Bounce Rate
Now, you may argue that your website already enjoys a good spot on the search engine rankings, so why to get a responsive website?
In order for your website to maintain a consistent position on the search engine, it needs to have a low bounce rate, which is only possible if your website is compatible with any and every kind of device, mobile or desktop.
If your website is not responsive, and takes ages to load, or does not adjust to smaller screen sizes, the visitors are very likely to be put off and “bounce away” from your website.
Google and other search engines will then decide that the higher bounce rate is an indication of your website’s irrelevancy and gradually give it a lower ranking.
So you see, a responsive website can not only improve your SEO, but also reduce your bounce rate and thus, salvage your website.
#5. Easy To Manage & Future Friendly
When you decide to go responsive with your website, you can say goodbye to the bothersome management of different versions of your website for mobile and desktop devices.
With a responsive website, you just have one site to look after. Therefore, easy management and more focus on it’s functionality.
Lastly, responsive websites are future-friendly because of their flexibility to adjust according to any screen size. So no matter how big or small our cell phone devices become in the future, your responsive website will look beautiful and work perfectly fine on all of them.
Moving on to the most important bit. Now, that you know how and why responsive websites have become so important, let me tell you WHAT you can do to rectify your situation.
#1. Use a Responsive Theme For Your Website
If you dont wish to hire a designer and want to do everything on your own, go to ThemeForest, select and install a responsive template for website.
Although, it sounds simple enough, we would still advice you take professional help in making your website responsive.
After all, you want to make your precious website more beautiful and user-friendly, and not mess it up altogether.
#2. Hire a Professional Web Design Agency
This is the best course of action.
There are many reputed web design agencies that can do the job for you. Just hire them, tell them what you need and they will design a delightful, responsive website for you.
If you need help in searching a suitable web design agency, use BigRock’s Design Xchange program to find one that matches your budget and is from your desired city.
#3. Don’t Do Anything and Be Ready to Get Penalized by Google
If you have understood and appreciated anything from this blog, then I am sure you would not choose this route. But just to emphasize the importance of having a responsive website, I would like to remind you about Google’s reservation about not using a responsive design.
So just keep in mind, if you do not have a responsive website by 21st April, 2015, be ready to get penalized by Google!