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Google’s New “Non-Mobile Friendly” Icon: A Modern Scarlet Letter

Building upon our blog post from last week, back in February 2014, estimates indicated that mobile traffic was responsible for up to 30% of site visits and 15% of purchases. Fast forward four months later and mobile devices are now responsible for more than 50% of site visits, according to comScore. Although the demand for mobile-friendly sites has been underway for quite some time, Google gave it a marked shove when new “non-mobile friendly” icons began to appear next to search engine results.

Likened to a digital scarlet letter, Google’s new icon, though in the testing phase, will discourage mobile users from visiting a site not compatible with their device. Granted, many mobile users are rejoicing at the heads up; however, for Webmasters counting on mobile traffic, Google just significantly upped the ante. Not to worry; there are multiple ways to make your site more mobile-friendly and avoid Google’s new icon.

Take That, Google.

If brands were avoiding going mobile before, Google now has their full attention. Here’s what you can do prevent being marked as “non-mobile friendly.”

  • Responsive web design. For businesses operating traditional websites, moving to a responsive design will enhance mobile compatibility without worrying about cross-device performance. Though other options exist, a mobile-responsive web design is convenient and easy to manage and performs well on any device.Untitled design (93)
  • Diversify your content strategy. Though quality long form content is paramount to engaging visitors and pleasing the search engines, there is an increasing demand for short form content easily viewed from a mobile device.
  • Don’t go crazy with plugins. Particularly for smartphone users, plugins can cause multiple problems, from crashes to slow load speeds. Google recommends avoiding plugins altogether to enhance mobile compatibility. While this may not be practical for all Webmasters, limiting the amount of plugins used is encouraged.
  • Improve page load speeds. Google’s recommended load speed for a webpage is 1 second or less. Tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights offers Webmasters a quick and easy way to test page load speed before providing recommendations to further improve speed.
  • Keep navigation simple. If you’ve ever visited a confusing website from a mobile device, you’re familiar with the frustration – and rapid closure – of a poor layout. To entice mobile users to explore your site, incorporate clean navigation into each page.

Your business doesn’t need to be defined by search engine preferences, but customers do need to be able to find you online from any device. By following the recommendations above, you’ll encourage an increase in mobile traffic and benefit from an increase in revenue opportunities.

How do you feel about Google’s new icon?