Google Changes: Mobile Sites Now a Necessity

March 17, 2021

Editor: Mike Elrod

If you’re a developer or web designer it seems like a no-brainer that mobile versions of websites are important. However, it may be difficult to convince business owners of that importance. But, as of March 2021 mobile versions are no longer a suggestion. They are a necessity. Google has ceased indexing desktop-only content. What does this mean? It means a site’s current ranking on a Google results page can fall away overnight if there isn’t a mobile version. 

Why is Google Doing This? 

Simply put, the vast majority of users are searching Google on mobile. Google’s business model relies on search results (i.e. your website) to be easily read on mobile devices. Otherwise, it will affect their bottom line. Google doesn’t control what devices a person uses to access online content, but they can control what they present on their search engine as useful to that person. If the content isn’t formatted correctly for a mobile device it’s far less useful. 

What Does This Mean for My Site? 

If your site is responsively designed to adjust to mobile devices there’s no need to worry. 

If you have what’s called an m-dot version (i.e. a version that is the same information as your desktop site, but has a different layout for mobile devices and an address like you may have some issues. If you search for something that uses an m-dot address for its mobile version like YouTube on your computer, it may start showing you the mobile version rather than the desktop version. The suggestion from Google is to redirect to the desktop version on your mobile site because there’s a chance they won’t do that for you anymore. 

If you’ve neglected the mobile version entirely this change means you should start making one immediately.

Making Mobile Site Versions

If you’re using WordPress, Webflow, Wix, or some other page builder you’ll need to check on the mobile version of your site within those. Often, this is called “Breakpoints” within those editors. If you don’t see them or don’t know where to look just Google the page builder’s name with the word breakpoints and you should find instructions on how to check them.

Responsive sites use breakpoints to adjust the information on a webpage to the dimensions of the screen it’s being viewed on. They don’t rely on slightly different addresses. It’s all the same page, just a different layout.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that your site is responsive just because it was made with a page builder. Your builder should show you what the page looks like on mobile devices. Many times, you have to adjust the layout, font size, images, margins, and more for the mobile version. Don’t just assume this is automatically done for you.

What to Do Next

As we said above, don’t wait. Make these changes immediately because Google has already stopped ranking your site if it’s not also made for mobile devices. Ask your web department or service provider to check on this and make corrections if you have them. If you’re running a business on your own, this will be a good opportunity to learn how to work on the web for mobile devices. If however, you don’t have the time to do it yourself, consider hiring someone to do it for you. The only way you’ll be hurt by Google’s change is if you don’t already have a working mobile version and you do nothing.

If you’re on your own don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t make sense at first. You can do this. There are plenty of tutorials for every site builder that are free. Just go to YouTube and type in the name along with “mobile” or “breakpoints” and you’ll be on your way to remedying any issues in no time.

AJ is a Systems Administrator and Web Developer. With a decade of experience in information security and technical support experience combined with four years of web development experience, AJ provides informed opinions on everyday technology challenges.
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