A New Focus for Web Development and SEO Mobile Optimization

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If you’re in the process of choosing a website design and development company, listen up: It appears there are some big changes coming in the web design and search engine optimization industries that make it even more important for an SEO web design company to focus on mobile user experience (“mobile UX,” in the industry).

On Oct. 29, Google rolled out a new feature for Webmaster Tools that flags mobile usability errors and tracks improvements in mobile optimization over time. Google’s growing emphasis on mobile over the past few months has many industry experts speculating that mobile UX will soon become a ranking factor in the search giant’s algorithms. Google often seeks to enforce what it sees as better practices by including them as what are called “ranking signals.”

Good and Bad Elements

According to the announcement on Google’s Webmaster Central Blog, “A mobile-friendly site is one that you can easily read and use on a smartphone, by only having to scroll up or down.”

The blog discourages the use of left and right swiping, zooming and panning, small text and groupings of clickable elements.

The Mobile Usability Report generated by the tool registers errors in viewport configuration, flash content and sizing problems, as well.

The Rise of Mobile

It used to be that a website design and development company would pitch a mobile version of a site as an extra perk, simply tacked onto traditional web design services. But that’s quickly being replaced by a mobile-first mentality, as about half of mobile users now say their smartphone is their primary point of Internet access.

The Google announcement notes that “Mobile is growing at a fantastic pace — in usage, not just in screen size,” and there’s significant data to back that up. Mobile web adoption is growing at a rate 8 times faster than in the 1990s and 2000s, and nearly three-fourths of consumers say they’re more likely to return to a site if it’s mobile friendly.

So what does this mean for professional web design companies (and the businesses hiring them)? It’s all further confirmation that mobile optimized websites are no longer secondary or ancillary concerns. Whether or not Google starts using mobile UX as a ranking signal, consumers have overwhelmingly spoken in favor of mobile usability.

Do you have any other tips to share on choosing a website design and development company? Join the discussion in the comments.

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