HummingbirdIf you’ve been thinking and reading a lot about SEO lately, as I have, particularly in the wake of Google Hummingbird, you’re probably just about sick of hearing “responsive design, responsive design, responsive design” and feeling like Long John Silver’s parrot is perched on your shoulder, squawking out surprisingly tech-savvy buzzwords. (Maybe it should’ve been called Google Parrot? No, I digress.) But, of course, there’s a reason the term is being thrown around every which way, and in particular as it relates to optimizing your site for mobile. By now we all know that well over half of Americans own a Smartphone, and the number is skyrocketing. It’s time to take advantage, as the U.S. State Department and U.S. Commerce Department have recently done. If you’re behind the tech curve of the United States Government, well… no comment.

Hummingbird Ratchets Up Responsive Design Timeline

A mostly-consensus point of view is that Google Hummingbird’s implementation has thrown down the gauntlet for responsive design, explicitly offering search results preference to sites effectively implementing the technology. Still, the majority of companies are slow to respond, with the latest numbers showing maybe 9 percent of sites having implemented some form of responsive design.

What going responsive means for mobile seems to vary anywhere along the spectrum from “you need to have done this a year ago” to “it is a big crock.” To be sure, having a dedicated mobile site in the vein is a surefire way to increase load speeds, which experts are torn on whether responsive design will ever be able to do. Some people believe that responsive design is looking beyond mobile to the next generation of mobile computing devices (viz. Google Glass) and smart TVs. But for mobile, what it means is tough to pin down; everywhere you look someone’s got another opinion on its value and purpose for mobile.

One thing seems clear, though, and that is if you are among the nearly 70 percent of businesses that don’t have a mobile-first version of your website, you are missing out on a significant and growing chunk of revenue-producing traffic. Responsive design is going to get your page ranked higher in Google search results, and it’s going to increase your mobile reach by a tangible amount. Whether you decide to implement responsive design or go with a mobile-optimized version is up to you, but the time is now.

What are you doing to optimize for mobile?