As of today mobile friendliness will no longer be a "nice to have" but rather a mandatory requirement for all new web pages.
Google has announced that it will be updating its search algorithms to favour websites that are mobile enabled, providing a seamless mobile experience to users viewing web pages on their mobile and tablet devices.
All websites that do not conform to Google's new mobile-friendly algorithm will be automatically ranked lower than those that offer a mobile optimised version. Criteria includes legible text size, the amount of space between links and whether content scales to fit a mobile device screen regardless of orientation.
So why does this matter?
ComScore, a leading online analytics provider, estimated that we exceeded the mobile tipping point midway through 2014 when mobile-internet usage overtook desktop browsing.
They also estimate that while 91% of internet users access the web via their PC or laptop, 80% of users also own a smartphone, with a further 47% also owning a tablet device; so if mobile marketing isn't part of your marketing strategy already - it really should be.
Looking forward, ComScore also cites emerging devices as the next step for mobile browsing optimisation through smart TVs, smart watches and wristbands, something that Apple have fully endorsed with their new Apple Watch available to buy from 24th April.
So what does this mean to you?
In short, if you don't have a mobile enabled website, there's a strong chance your visitor numbers may drop off. A Google representative said: "Mobile friendliness is one of many factors used by the search engine to rank results," but in a blog post the company said the change would have "a significant impact" on search results.
Ultimately this means that every page of your site that is not mobile enabled will now rank lower on the search engine, which could mean any mobile optimised competitor website could rank higher, resulting in a potential loss of new enquiries and new business.
"As people increasingly search on their mobile devices, we want to make sure they can find content that's not only relevant and timely, but also easy to read and interact with on smaller mobile screens," the Google representative said.
Google's mobile path to purchase report survey found that 48% of mobile purchases start via search engine request (42% automotive, 41% home and garden, and 38% apparel and beauty).
What can you do?
"Designed and built mobile friendly websites are a must for us and our clients", said Jane Johnson, Digital Projects Director at Connect. "We recognise that it provides users with a more consistent user-experience, regardless of platform or device rather than a separate site for specific device and screen size."
To check if your website is deemed "mobile friendly" by Google you can use their developer test tool which will analyse your site and return its suggestions and verdict.
As a leading design and digital agency within the Midlands and lead agency to global clients such as Jaguar Land Rover, Birmingham International Airport, MAN Truck & Bus UK and Finning UK and Ireland, Connect has long being preparing our clients for this eventuality.
"This was only a matter of time," said Jane, "Users need to be able to access information quickly and easily on the go via their mobile device and a well optimised site gives a great user experience that reinforces their relationship with your brand."
Jane went on the explain: "Responsive web design has become best practice for us at Connect as it allows us to be sympathetic to different devices and screen sizes to give our clients and their customers the best mobile browsing experience possible. We plan and design the user experience taking a mobile-up approach, giving clients a single cost-effective website that works seamlessly across desktop, laptop, tablet and mobile devices, removing the hassle of having to manage multiple versions of the site."
Patrick Maloney, Account Manager said, "Clients often ask if we can produce an App for them or a webpage to use on their iPad or mobiles and I always say the same thing; 'Why not produce a responsive web page instead?'
"Often the issue we have is that many client websites are using old or inadequate technology that can't support mobile or responsive web design. By designing and building responsive websites, the user is delivered a view of the website that best suits their screen size, orientation and resolution regardless of their browser platform. Using fluid proportion-based grids and flexible imagery, we can ensure our client's customers get the very best experience possible, allowing the creative web design to maximize its effectiveness."