In 2014, nearly two-thirds of the Australian population use smartphones, which means more time is being spent online away from the computer or laptop. The fact that people are using smartphones (as well as tablets) more now than ever is an obvious indication that businesses and website owners need to step back and have a look at how their current website is being viewed, as well as how user friendly it comes across through different mediums.

However, even though smartphone and tablet users are a significant and rapidly growing segment of Internet users, a lot of business and website owners are still not investing the time and money into making sure their website is mobile friendly. This needs to change.

Google are all about the user experience. When user habits change, Google evolves with them, and as a Google spokesperson has previously said:

“We want users to be able to enjoy the web wherever they are”

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It has also been previously mentioned that the mobile user experience would eventually have an effect on rankings, and finally, after all that speculation and months of testing, Google has officially launched the mobile-friendly label in mobile search results, which will affect website rankings in mobile search results. Currently websites that have been proactive with their mobile site have seen better results already.

According to Search Engine Land, websites that provide a poor experience to mobile users and searchers have already been penalised by Google. As it is still in the testing phase, there’s no definite list of right and wrong things to do. However, one thing I’ve learnt working in SEO is pretty self-explanatory: create a mobile friendly (preferably responsive) version of your website that is readable and immediately usable. The less frustrating it is to use, the better you’ll rank.

From the Webmasters Central Blog, here is how to gain the ‘Mobile-friendly’ seal of approval:

  1. Avoid software that is not common on mobile devices, like Flash
  2. Use text that is readable without zooming
  3. Size content to the screen so users don’t have to scroll horizontally or zoom
  4. Place links far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily tapped
  5. Use one URL throughout mediums (reduced loading time associated with having to redirect to a mobile site)
  6. Monitor site speed (the faster your websites loads, the better)

As always, Google has provided information and resources to help webmasters ensure their websites are mobile-friendly with this useful Guide. On top of that, they have provided a website analyser to report whether your website is mobile-friendly or not. Click here to test your website. This not only tells you the issue, but provides you with information on how to fix the issues, making your website the friendliest it could be.

Mobile and tablet usage are just going to increase in the years to come. It is therefore better to jump on the bandwagon and change as much as you can now as a future investment, instead of fighting for rankings when everybody realises how important it is.