What all AdSense Publishers need to know.
The past couple of years have seen an astounding upsurge in mobile page views. The growth of users who are accessing information with their smartphones or tablets, rather than using a traditional desktop, means that every site now needs to work on every device. Most website owners understand the importance of having a mobile-friendly site but may not have the time or ability to build one; Its now become an imperative. As of April 21st, 2015 Google will use mobile-friendliness as a major ranking factor in their search algorithm.
How big of a deal is this?
Huge. This is the first time in Google’s history that they have announced a specific update, in advance and set a date for its implementation. You’ll have heard of Panda or Penguin? Some people in the world of SEO are speculating that this algorithm update is to affect more search queries than Panda and Penguin combined. So forget about the fluffy animals and take heed from Google: make sure your site is mobile-friendly – now!
Why is a mobile-friendly layout important?
Your users should be your number one priority. If a user accesses your site on their phone and it isn’t mobile friendly, their experience will be sub-par. They will have to pinch-and-zoom to be able to read the content, will get frustrated by not being able to see the content clearly, and may even accidentally click on ads while trying to see your site.
What does a mobile-friendly layout need?
After testing thousands of layouts and gathering many million data points, we’ve found that the most important characteristics of a mobile layout are the following:
- Readable content – users shouldn’t have to pinch and zoom to access the content. It should be easily readable as-is.
- Navigation – the user should be able to get to almost anywhere on the site via a drop-down or expanding menu that expand further to access sub menus. The links should be “thumb-friendly” to ensure users get to the content they’re looking for without accidental clicks.
- Search boxes – The user should be able to search your site for the information they are looking for and find a search box easily.
- Site speed – the site should load quickly regardless of the device they are using. Use methods like lazy-loading and sub domain sharding to ensure the user gets the content quickly and easily.
- Properly sized ads – make sure the ads fit to the screen properly (and don’t bleed off the page etc)
Google developers offer some guidance on common mistakes here.
What if my site’s traffic is majority desktop?
It doesn’t matter. You still need a mobile-friendly layout from April 21st! Sites that aren’t mobile-friendly may be punished in the search rankings. Don’t let that be you! Also, having a mobile-friendly site could win you more traffic, and everyone loves that!