04/16/2015 12:46 EDT | Updated 06/16/2015 05:59 EDT

A Final Warning For Websites Not Optimized For Mobile

Woman taking selfie with smartphone
PhotoAlto/Sigrid Olsson via Getty Images
Woman taking selfie with smartphone

Is your website optimized for mobile? If it's not, mark your calendars: April 21 marks the day Google will launch its newest algorithm update, affecting websites that are not optimized. With the number of mobile users rapidly growing -- 87 per cent of consumers rely on mobile devices to conduct searches at least once a day -- Google is ready to reward those who prioritize customer experience.

The search engine giant has already made great strides in tailoring search results to favour sites that are optimized for mobile even though it was never an official ranking factor. In a blog post, Google announced its April 21 deadline, saying that a mobile-responsive website will perform better in search results than its non-mobile counterpart. Mobile-friendly sites will be tagged as meeting Google's requirements, therefore increasing impression rates and overall potential sales. This new algorithm is set to be rolled out gradually, but is expected to have a bigger impact than any other Google update.

This announcement is not news to many since Google has been penalizing sites that generate errors for mobile users for quite some time now. This deadline is really a final warning for those who have not yet taken the steps required to optimize and also serves as a checkpoint to make sure those who have, have done it correctly.

What does this mean for your business?

It's time to take action. This, however, doesn't mean that businesses need to invest more money or upgrade their entire online presence. There are multiple ways to get ready for this change and test to see if your efforts are working. Google provides a guide to mobile-friendly websites, as well as a mobile-friendly test, to make sure your efforts are not in vein and the website works properly.

So now that you know when your website should be ready by and have a guide to achieve this, what's next? It's all about the content. It is important to optimize your content in order to communicate it effectively via mobile. How do you do this? Here are five ingredients to make your content mobile-friendly:

  1. Touch-friendly design options: A smaller screen and lack of a cursor can make navigation more challenging and even frustrating, so think about what your finger can do. Incorporate touch-friendly elements like carousels, accordions and drawers to make navigation easier. Also, use larger font sizes for important content and different colours for links so they pop and are easier to read.
  2. Finger-friendly design options: With mobile screens more sensitive to touch coupled with adult fingers taking up lots of real estate, there's a chance for frustration. Use larger and more colourful buttons, increase the space between touch targets, and use lots of negative to help certain items stand out.
  3. Sharp headlines and engaging information: Make your headlines short, under eight words if possible, to capture those with short attention spans. Position important information near the top before users scroll down. Break up the text into subsections to make pages easier to scan.
  4. Font-based icons: Since low-resolution graphics could look pixelated on high-resolution mobile screens, use font-based icons since they scale well on tablets and smartphones.
  5. Clear social sharing buttons: Mobile users love to share, which is great for increasing brand awareness, so it's important to position social media icons clearly so users can simply click and disseminate.

Google's main goal is to increase user-friendly search on high-quality, easy-to-use sites in order to improve mobile experience; a concept that should align with all business objectives as part of their online platforms. A streamlined, user-friendly site leads to happy customers.