Well, folks. No surprise here. Google has changed its search engine algorithm yet again, and this time its to give preference to mobile friendly web design.

The change to the algorithm is effective today (April 21st) and will factor in the following criteria when ranking your website:

If you thought Google’s former Panda and Penguin updates were huge, you should know that this new update that rewards mobile friendly sites will have a much larger impact on how search rankings are determined.

Fortunately, Google has done a phenomenal job alerting marketers and website owners of this new change, starting this communication back in February when the change was announced on its Webmaster Central Blog. Google also offers a number of tools to test the mobile friendliness of websites, such as the Google Mobile Friendly Test.

If you run the test and find that Google does not consider your website to be mobile friendly, you have 3 basic options to optimize your website to accommodate the mobile viewer:

1. Responsive Website Design

Of the three choices available, Google gives preference to this design pattern. The reasoning behind this? Instead of making two copies of the same website, responsive design only uses 1 URL and automatically adjusts its formatting depending on how the website is viewed (desktop, smartphone, or tablet) to ensure the optimum viewing and navigating experience.

2. Dynamic Serving

While this type of website design also just uses 1 URL, it does use a different HTML. With dynamic serving, user-agents will determine what type of device the user is viewing your website from and will make adjustments accordingly. The downside to dynamic serving is there are often a number of errors that occur with the user-agent detection of the device being used.

3. Mobile Website

A mobile website is a copy of your traditional website, but has a different URL. This can create a disruptive experience for your viewer, especially if he or she visits a mobile link from a desktop computer or vice versa. While this format is compatible with Google’s new criteria, it’s not preferable.

While these new changes to Google’s search algorithm may be very alarming to some marketers and website owners, we think the overall change will actually be a very good one. The number of users accessing the internet from a mobile device is growing tremendously, and this algorithm change is to meet the needs of today’s online consumer and will encourage many businesses to modernize their websites in order to compete.

If you’re interested in learning more about Google’s new mobile update and what you can do to improve your website’s ranking in SERPs, please contact us at DigitalSherpa.

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About Lindsay Lanier

Lindsay Lanier is an Atlanta based blogger that has been writing content for DigitalSherpa since 2011. She is a graduate of Elon University where she majored in Business Administration with a concentration in International Business. In her free time, Lindsay can usually be found pushing a double jogging stroller with her two young children through the park or playing catch with her rambunctious yellow lab.