On April 21st, just a couple of weeks away, Google is scheduled to roll out a new search algorithm update. This update focuses on mobile searches, and Google will start using mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor.
What does this mean?
If you get traffic from smartphones (it apparently doesn't apply to tablet searches), and if your WordPress site isn't mobile-friendly, you could take a significant traffic hit starting later this month.
How do You Know if Your Site is Mobile-Friendly?
There are two quick ways you can check:
1. Google your website's name on a smartphone.
Find your site in the search results. If Google sees your site as mobile-friendly, you'll see a tag to that effect as in the image below.
2. Use Google's mobile-friendly test tool.
Google set up a mobile-friendly test tool that you can use to check any page on your site. Just enter the URL you want to test and click the "Analyze" button. If your page is mobile-friendly, you'll see a green box pop up saying "Awesome! This page is mobile-friendly."
But what happens if your page isn't so "awesome" in Google's eyes? Can you make your WordPress site mobile-friendly without changing your theme? Fortunately, you can.
A Mobile-Friendly WP Site is Just a Plugin Away
If you want to change your site's theme and switch to a responsive design, that's great. But if you don't want to or you don't have time before the April 21st algorithm change, you have another option -- the WPtouch WordPress plugin.
Before I switched my small business blog to a responsive design, this is the plugin I used to make sure mobile visitors weren't faced with a difficult-to-use site. It did a great job, and it turns out installing it will make your WordPress site pass Google's mobile-friendly test.
All you have to do is install and activate the plugin, though there are plenty of optional customizations. There's even a pro version if you want more flexibility. Your site's mobile version won't look exactly like the rest of your site, but you can maintain consistent branding by updating the color scheme. Users will still have the option to switch to your full site if they prefer.
Once the plugin is activated, use Google's mobile-friendly test tool again and you should see that your site passes.
It's important to note that the algorithm change will operate on a page-by-page basis. And it's a "yes / no" ranking factor. There are no degrees of mobile-friendliness. A site either is or it isn't.
This simple plugin can make sure your entire WordPress site is ready to go before Google's April 21st deadline. But don't worry. If you miss the deadline, just make your site mobile-friendly as soon as you can. The updates are supposed to be in real-time, which means after making your site mobile-friendly, you should see results the next time Google crawls your site.
Is your site mobile-friendly yet? Did you opt for a responsive theme? A plugin like WPtouch? Or something else? Tell us about it in the comments below.