Posted by : Bathabile Dlodlo Thursday, 25 May 2017

Google Prefers Mobile Friendly Sites
Smartphones are becoming more ubiquitous in South Africa and across the African continent. Obviously, the major benefit of having a smartphone is the gateway that it provides to access the internet. Due to the prohibitive price of laptops and desktop computers, and the dropping price of smartphones, mobile has become the Internet access method of choice for many South Africans. According to We Are Social’s yearly report on internet usage statistics, mobile accounts for at least 78% of internet usage in the country.
With so many people using mobile devices to access the internet, it only makes sense to ensure that your website is mobile friendly. If your site isn’t responsive on mobile, you could be shutting 78% of your visitors out. 
Mobile Friendly - What Does It Mean?
Mobile versions of sites can come in 3 categories: responsive, adaptive, or separate.
Responsive design responds to the user’s screen size and scales the website accordingly. This is achieved using portion-based grids (that are assigned a percentage rather than a pixel width) and varying CSS style rules. The same URL structure and HTML are maintained on desktops, tablets, and mobile. 
Adaptive design is sometimes referred to as dynamic serving. This method detects the user’s device and generates a different version of the site HTML to suit that device. URL structure remains the same, however there are multiple versions of the site based on device.
Separate mobile sites are easily identified by their top level domain; rather than seeing a “www.” at the beginning of the URL, you will see an “m.”. This method will show users different HTML on separate URLs according to their device.
Which is the best for SEO?
You may be familiar with what is now referred to as “mobilegeddon”. This was a name given by webmasters and SEOs to Google’s algorithm update from April 21 2015. The update gave preference to mobile friendly sites for searches made from mobile devices. Desktop searches were not affected. This was done by Google to improve user experience, as desktop versions of websites are not easy to navigate on smaller screens. 
Google has explicitly stated on their Developers website that their preference is responsively designed websites. This is most likely due to the fact that the site HTML remains the same with this method, and URLs do not change, so link sharing is easy.
Is your site mobile responsive? If not, it’s time to sort that out.

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