Quinn Labs: A website about building websites

google mobile ranking cover

Google mobile ranking

What did Google change?

It’s been about a month since Google put into effect a plan announced in February to boost the rank of mobile-friendly sites on mobile searches. It’s important to read that closely. This does not change how Google ranks sites on desktop searches.

A global trend

Mobile web usage is growing globally. Over the past 5 years, overall mobile web usage has grown from under 3% to over 30% of web traffic, according to analytics firm StatCounter.

StatCounter comparison ww yearly 2010 2015

The trend is even starker in some regions of the world, especially Africa and South Asia. In those regions, a majority of web traffic is mobile (green areas in the map below).

StatCounter comparison ww monthly 201505 201505 map

What should you do about it?

Do your homework

Before you devote resources to address Google’s change, evaluate how your site’s visitors are already using your site. Check your analytics. Here at Quinn Labs, which has always been a mobile-friendly site, only about 8% of our sessions are on mobile devices; 88% come from desktop systems, with a handful coming from tablets. On our company website, the numbers are similar, but not identical: 21% mobile, 76% desktop. If our web sites weren’t already mobile-friendly, we’d definitely want to focus on the corporate web site before this site.

You’ll also want to be aware of the geographical distribution of your visitors, because of the global trends mentioned above. At quinn.com, a plurality (45%) of our sessions come from the United States. Here’s the breakdown of the top 10 countries:

country% of sessions
US 45%
unknown 6%
Russia 5%
UK 5%
Canada 3%
India 3%
Brazil 3%
China 3%
Germany 2%
Japan 2%

Quinn Labs has a much different distribution!

country% of sessions
US 20%
Australia 11%
New Zealand 10%
UK 7%
Brazil 6%
Germany 5%
Canada 5%
Spain 4%
Italy 4%
France 2%

Check your mobile-friendliness

Google helpfully provides an online tool and developer’s guide to help you check your site’s mobile-friendliness. You should use it as a guideline, but make sure you loop in your web-development team for this part of the analysis. Their technical judgement is essential in evaluating what the tool tells you and planning your next steps.

Not to brag, but here’s the mobile-friendliness report for this site.

What’s next?

You are going to want your site to be mobile-friendly, as the web is inexorably becoming more and more mobile. If your site isn’t yet mobile-friendly, you need to launch a redesign project, so you’ll need to allocate a similar level of resources as your last redesign (or initial site development).

About the Author

  • Fred Condo

    Fred has a Ph.D. in the Management of Information Systems and Cognitive Psychology from Claremont Graduate School, and is Chief Engineer at Quinn Interactive. He taught a graduate level class, “Principles of Usability” at the Academy of Art in San Francisco, and was an Assistant Professor in the Communication Design department at California State University, Chico for 6 years, teaching web development and human factors. Fred got into SilverStripe in 2008. He has made 35 commits to the SilverStripe framework repository, which makes him the 36th-most prolific contributor to the project (as of November 2014). You should follow him on GitHub here.

    More from Fred Condo