They called it “Mobilegeddon.”

It was the name given to Google’s algorithm update in 2015 that favored sites in mobile search that had incorporated responsive design, ranking them ahead of sites that hadn’t made the switch.

Consider this “Son of Mobilegeddon”: Google says on its Webster Blog that it is “rolling out an update to mobile search results that increases the effect of the ranking signal to help our users find even more pages that are relevant and mobile-friendly.”

On May 17, Google rolled out a new mobile-friendly test. Just plug in the URL of your website and Google will tell you whether your site is a good fit for mobile devices.

If you’ve just tried the test and passed, congratulations. If you didn’t pass, maybe it’s time to consider making the switch to responsive design.

responsive design

What’s the difference between responsive and mobile-friendly?

On the surface, the two concepts might seem the same, but it’s not a good idea to use them interchangeably. A good rule of thumb: A responsive site is always going to be mobile-friendly, but a mobile-friendly site isn’t always responsive.

A website that’s mobile-friendly will look the same across all devices. It’s functional, but can be harder to navigate than a responsive site.

A website that’s responsive is one that will respond to the different screens on which it appears: desktops, tablets, smartphones, etc. As you switch from device to device, the site will change with you. Both mobile-friendly and responsive sites will work for mobile users, but responsive sites are considered easier-to-use and more visually pleasing.

Google has recommended using responsive design, arguing that:

  • It makes it easier to share and link your content with a single URL.
  • Responsive design means Google only needs to crawl your site one time, rather than multiple times to recover the various versions of a page.
  • Responsive design requires less engineering time to maintain pages featuring the same content.
  • With responsive design, Google’s algorithm has an easier time assigning precise indexing properties to a page, rather than needing to signal the existence of separate pages for desktop and mobile.

And beyond Google’s recommendations, there are a number of reasons your website should embrace mobile users:

  • The audience is there. There are more than 1 billion smartphone users in the world. Nearly 75 percent of Americans use a smartphone. The number of tablet owners is expected to reach 1.4 billion by 2018.
  • Every day, 61 percent of smartphone users search the internet with that device.
  • Sixty percent of visitors will convert to customers if a site is mobile-friendly. If the site isn’t mobile friendly, that conversion rate drops by more than half.