So you’ve built an amazing website – one that will revolutionize the world, or at least your business. A mobile-ready website that will perpetually engage users across multiple devices while creating unique brand experiences, enabling distinct dialogues and fostering relationships with your audiences.

khj_mobile_on_phoneWith your amazing website in place, it begs the question: how do your intended audiences find your website in a sea of websites? The best way is through the power of search. According to Moz, over 50% of the average site’s traffic comes from “organic” search results.  That means that if you’re running a website for your cupcake shop in Boston, you’ll want someone who is searching “cupcakes in Boston” to find you in their search results.

To optimize your visibility, placement and performance of organic search results, Search Engine Optimization – better known as SEO – significantly impacts how you design both the front- and back-end of your website as well as your ongoing content marketing strategies. If you’re a true SEO beginner, Moz provides a great beginner’s guide to help you get started.

SEO has never been an exact science. This is largely due to the ever-changing, ever-elusive Google search algorithm that determines which sites are relevant for certain search terms and which aren’t.

Until recently, the Google algorithm was based on three broad factors:

  • Engagement metrics – do people stay on your site when they click from search results? Or do they immediately hit the back button?
  • Machine learning – mimicking real human evaluators who ranked the relevancy of thousands of websites
  • Linking patterns – if someone links to your site from theirs, this shows Google that you’re a relevant, reliable source of information

In April, Google changed their algorithm to put a heavy weight on another factor: mobile friendliness.

Google’s main goal is to provide search results that users will want to interact with. Since 60% of adults now use their mobile phones rather than desktop computers to research an item before making a purchase, it’s no surprise that this new algorithm update is putting such an emphasis on mobile viewability.

This update is an on-off algorithm—this means that your page is either mobile-friendly, or it’s not. If you’re not sure whether or not your website is mobile-friendly, Google has provided a useful testing tool that will analyze your site for you.

What does Google take into account when determining mobile-friendliness? According to the Google team, a few of the criteria are a large enough font size, buttons that are far enough apart and big enough to be clicked on mobile and content that is not wider than the average phone screen (roughly 320 pixels).

Apart from the obvious website development implications, this algorithm change gives marketers an important insight: mobile is king. Whether you’re selling shoes, medical devices, real estate or savings accounts, the way you engage with your audience hinges on whether or not you can connect with them on mobile. Google has coined the term “micro moments,” moments when we want to know, do, or get to something. In these moments, we reflexively turn to our mobile devices as sources of virtually limitless, up-to-the-minute information and we expect relevant, easily accessible results. That’s why Google has set out to make that even easier. And as the world’s dependence on mobile devices grows (currently half the world’s population has a smartphone and by 2020 that number will grow to 80%…), mobile-friendly is a must.

Want more? See the way UX plays a role in mobile-friendly design.