By Gary Nugent

Mobile responsive websites

I don’t know about you, but I have a love/hate relationship with Google. They send me lots of free traffic, but I have to continually jump through hoops to get them to do that and keep my sites ranked highly.

trying to keep us all on our toes again, Google is releasing a VERY significant algorithm update on April 21 (2015), that every website owner needs to pay attention to.

And Google have indicated that this update will have more impact on your sites than Panda or Penguin ever did!

Mobile devices have become so popular over the past few years that a significant percentage of people using Google are now doing so from those devices rather than from desktop PCs and laptops.

So, in recognition of that, this new update is all about the requirement to have a mobile responsive site. Google has hinted in the past 2 years that having a mobile responsive site is very important because of this increase in mobile users.

So, on April 21st Google will roll out that update and it is expected to cause a major impact if you do not comply with the mobile responsive requirement.

Sites that do not meet the requirement will be penalized and that means big drops in how your site ranks as a result.

So it’s not an issue webmasters can afford to ignore.

How Do You Know If Your Site Is Mobile Responsive Or Not?

Google's webmaster tools

If you use Google’s Webmaster Tools (WMT), and your site is not mobile responsive, you’ll see a warning message like this when you look at your site details:

New and important
Fix mobile usability issues found on http://www.yourdomainname.com/

If you don’t use WMT, then you can go to one of the sites listed below and paste in your site’s URL. They’ll then show you what your site looks like on a range of devices.

If you have to scroll left or right to see content on your pages, then your site is NOT mobile responsive and you need to do something to fix it.

Remember, your site has to be readable on ALL sizes of mobile devices, not just tablets.

This is a major concern for MOST website owners. This may, in fact, be the first time they’re even hearing about this issue. Many who are aware of it are getting ready to totally convert their sites to comply.

http://www.studiopress.com/responsive
http://www.browserstack.com/responsive
http://mattkersley.com/responsive/
https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/

What If Your Site Is NOT Mobile Responsive?

You’ve found that your site is not mobile responsive, but what if you don’t want to change your website’s appearance? What if you don’t want to go through all the pain and agony of completely rebuilding your website?

You don’t really want to throw all that hard work out the window?

Mobile Responsive Solutions

These solutions will be for WordPress sites, since this site is about building WordPress blogs. Other website building tools may have their own solutions to this issue and if your site is built with such a tool, you’ll need to research whatever ways of upgrading your sites may be available.

So, onto the WordPress solutions…

1. Update/Change your Blog Theme

There may be a mobile responsive upgrade available for your blog theme. If you have multiple sites using different themes, then you’ll need to check if each theme has a mobile-friendly upgrade. If you use commercial (paid for) themes, upgrades may require a fee.

2. Add The WP Touch Plugin To Your Blog

WP Touch is one of the most popular free plugins that allows a non mobile responsive theme to render on mobile devices. The free version of the plugin is a bit limited in what it can do and sites do look ugly on a mobile device. But they will pass the mobile responsive test. There is a Pro version of the plugin. Prices start at $59 for one site; larger site packages are available (with discounts).

3. Add the WP Mobile Plugin To Your Site

WP Mobile is an alternative free plugin to make your blog mobile friendly.

4. Add the WP Mobile Pro Plugin To Your Blog

There’s a name conflict here as WP Mobile Pro is NOT a Pro version of the WP Mobile plugin. The plugins are from different developers.

WP Mobile Pro is a commercial plugin which costs about $20 for use on an unlimited number of sites. This makes it the cheapest and least time consuming method of upgrading multiple sites to be mobile responsive.

You keep your current theme and use this plugin to AUTOMATICALLY generate a mobile-friendly version of your website without building or changing anything.

Final Thoughts

Whatever you do, make sure you have a mobile responsive site before April 21st. Google knows this search engine upgrade will have a major impact on how sites rank.

Google don’t usually announce what will be in one of their algorithm upgrades, but this time they changed their normal policy and announced this update at the SMX conference in Munich on March 18th, as well as on their official blog.

This is not a marketing trick. It’s the new reality. Mobile compliance will impact every website on the internet.

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Filed under: WordPress Themes