In short, important. Back in April 2015, Google announced that websites that weren’t responsive, based on a device’s screen size, would be penalized in search results. In May of this year, the changes in the algorithm were completed. If your site wasn’t mobile or responsive, mobile users would have a tough time a) finding your site, and b) using it without having to scroll side to side or zoom in to read the text. This is critical if you have a business-to-consumer website like a restaurant, entertainment venue, hair salon or coffee shop, since a significant portion of that website traffic is on mobile devices.

There are a few ways websites can meet these requirements. Having a responsive site means that, no matter what screen size a user has, the website will fit comfortably within that screen. Phones, tablets and large desktops will see all the content on your site without having to zoom in to read content or view menus. In responsive design, as the screen size gets smaller fonts get larger and photos are shuffled so they appear in an easy to read column. Some websites have a separate mobile version of their site, but this is less common than just having one single responsive website.

So, what does the algorithm do, and how does it affect you? Basically, if you have a mobile or responsive site already, you don’t need to worry. However, if you have a website that isn’t responsive to a user’s screen size, your site likely won’t show up on the first page of relevant search results, even with good search engine optimization (SEO).

To test your site, go to https://search.google.com/search-console/mobile-friendly and see how Google rates your mobile responsiveness. If it rates poorly, it will say it’s not mobile friendly and give a list of reasons, such as links being too close together or the text being too small, making a user zoom in. It will also show how the screen looks on a mobile phone.

Unfortunately, there is no workaround for the algorithm. Your website must either be updated make it responsive, or you must have a separate mobile site created. A separate mobile site may save time and money on the front end, but going forward it requires more effort to keep both versions updated with the same content. Plus, anytime a new browser update is released, you must make sure both sites can accommodate it. Having a separate mobile site also can’t guarantee the users are being sent to the correct site for the device they are using. If you send the mobile link to a desktop user, it wouldn’t look as clean as it should.

SkyeLine Studio is a full-service website design company located in Connecticut. We build sites with responsive design so that they are mobile friendly and optimized for every screen size. We specialize in content management systems utilizing WordPress so that clients may update their site on their own if they wish, providing the ultimate in digital freedom and flexibility. We’re a one-stop-shop and make the web design process easy, offering photography services, logo design, writing, SEO, marketing strategy and more. For more information or to get a quote, go to www.skyeline.com/website-design/.