The future's so bright I need to wear shades!! ... Well that's my excuse anyway. As After Digital’s resident SEO guru I do of course have a large gold medallion, a permanent orangey tan and the mandatory shades but hey I think I look hip. Anyway, I digress!

In todays blog installment I wanted to discuss Google's new approach to mobile friendly websites. For a number of years, as the take up of mobile devices increases at an ever alarming rate, Google has always recommended that a "responsive" website is its preferred option for anyone considering developing a new site. Why, because it offers users a better all-round experience.

For anyone still unsure as to what responsive web design actually means (where have you been for the past few years?) the official Wikipedia definition is "Responsive website design (RWD) is an approach to web design aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing experience—easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling—across a wide range of devices (from desktop computer monitors to mobile phones).”

So, in short, responsive web design ensures as much as possible that a visitor to a website has the same user experience independent of what device or browser they view the site on. If you like it’s the epitome of "device agnostic". However, responsive web design has a number of associated challenges and can be a major headache, especially for sites with large amounts of content. The main reason being that it’s not always easy to read longer articles on a mobile device. So there are compromises that have to be made in some instances.

Up until this week, Google didn’t so blatantly reward more mobile-friendly website design and development. This all changed on the 18th of November 2014. Google now displays a “mobile friendly” label or tag before the start of the meta description (see example ad to the side) in search results for any website that it considers will provide a good user experience on any mobile device. This obviously has enormous opportunities for any website that has already decided to go down the responsive route. Not only can these sites expect higher click-throughs, but Google may well decide to rank these sites higher via its algorithm. So, just another reason to consider how mobile-friendly your website actually is. Stay tuned for more on this in the coming weeks!

The one question you’ll probably be asking is …. how “mobile friendly” is my site then? Well Google has a tool to help you find out. It provides a rough idea of whether your site passes or fails, but keep in mind that it is still a robot and so cannot always distinguish intelligently if you have custom code etc on your website. Give it a go here - Google’s Mobile Friendly Testing Tool.

So in short … no more excuses for not thinking about your mobile user base. The Google gods have spoken!!