We’ve known for a while that people are using their phones to view websites, but as of March 2018 Google cares more about how your mobile site looks than the desktop version. If your website is not mobile responsive you’ll be turning away both customers and search engines. It has never been more important to get your mobile site right.

What does ‘mobile responsive’ mean?

A mobile responsive website changes (or responds) based on the size of the screen on which it is being viewed. Imagine your website has three columns of information, perhaps with some images and text that flows lengthways down the page. This probably looks great on a desktop screen with enough space to see each section clearly.

If this webpage was not mobile responsive, it would simply show a smaller version of the site on the mobile screen. Imagine trying to read text or view an image that spans only one third the width of a mobile screen. It wouldn’t work and users would navigate away fairly quickly.

dog eating mobile phone

On the other hand, a mobile responsive website automatically shuffles the layout so it is still useful on a mobile screen. In the case of three columns, this would likely mean switching it to a single column of information and showing each section below the previous one. Images would also be resized, often to the width of the screen but positioned so the user can scroll past them and keep reading.

Navigation menus also change on a mobile responsive site, from often being a row across a website to a drop down menu on a mobile device. Again this ensures functionality is maintained.

But my customers use computers

As of April 2018, mobile devices were used for 51.2 per cent of web page views worldwide. Research also shows that 74 per cent of Australians actively browse the internet on their mobile device.

That’s a lot of eyes viewing mobile web pages, so to assume your customers are only viewing your website on a computer is a big mistake. That’s also a lot of lost business if your mobile-browsing customers get fed up and click away from a site that isn’t responsive.

Mobile responsiveness matters to Google

Since 2015 Google has penalised non-mobile responsive sites in search results. Recently Google officially announced that they will be moving to mobile-first indexing, effectively meaning your mobile site is more important than the desktop site.

Google expects websites to be mobile friendly, not just responsive. This means sites should avoid using software not commonly found of phones (such as Flash), they shouldn’t have text that needs to be zoomed in to be read, they must load quickly on mobile devices and they need to be mobile responsive.

How can I make my site mobile responsive?

The amount of work required to make a site mobile responsive depends on your starting base. If you’re a coding guru, you’ll need some code that looks something like this…

Website Code

If that completely freaks you out, you’d be best to use a content management system (CMS) with inbuilt responsiveness features. Platforms such as WordPress, Weebly and Squarespace all make mobile responsiveness fairly simple (and you don’t need to be too tech-minded).

We prefer WordPress as it allows for plenty of customisation along with themes that are easily mobile responsive. Your other option is to outsource to a tech expert who can do the coding work for you.

If you’ve realised your site is not mobile responsive, or if it’s time for a bit of a refresh, don’t forget the importance of good content. Your website, whether viewed on a phone or on a desktop, needs to deliver value to your customers.

Is your website Google-friendly?

If your website isn’t optimised for both humans and search engines, chances are you’re missing out on traffic. Improve your search rankings with tips from our free guide, Keeping Google happy: Writing SEO copy your readers don’t hate.

Keeping Google Happy Guide