Google Wants Your Ecommerce Site to be Responsive

If you missed the news, Google published a blog post recently stating:

Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.

In a nutshell, how well your pages render on mobile devices like cell phones will become a significant ranking factor for anyone searching using a mobile device. This is a big change for Google’s search results.

Does Google really like Responsive sites over a separate mobile site?

The answer is yes. From Google’s Mobile SEO Guide:

Responsive design is Google’s recommended design pattern.

What’s needed for a responsive website

A responsive website is one where the HTML, CSS, and JavaScript code on a web page determines what screen size (called the viewport) the visitor is using, and adjusts its output automatically to render well on the user’s screen size. The URL does not change, just how the page is displayed to the user as their screen size shrinks or expands (cell phone, tablet, desktop, etc…).

Google has a nice Responsive Site Guide that walks you through how the code works.

If you’re using ShopSite:

If you are using a built-in ShopSite template, many of the newer ones are already designed to be responsive. ShopSite has a list of the built-in themes, with labels for ones that are responsive.

If you have custom templates, you can adjust the code to include responsive elements to adjust the display based on the screen size viewing the page. Or have your web designer help you create a responsive version of your site.

If you want to test things out without affecting your live site, we can set up a development / demo account, populated with your current pages and products. It’s an easy and cost-effective way to build out a responsive site.

If you’re using Magento:

Responsive is the way to go. If you’re running the latest version of Magento, it has a theme named “RWD” that is fully responsive. You can custom build a template based on this theme.

Many of the most popular Magento themes out there are also responsive, so check with your theme creator if they have an update that is responsive.

We can also set up a development account for testing if needed.

Can’t go responsive? Consider a separate mobile site

If you cannot convert your site to be responsive, a less effective option is to have a separate mobile site. It’s better than not being mobile friendly at all.

This option works by using JavaScript code to detect if the visitor is using a mobile device, and then redirects them to a mobile friendly site / pages.

For ShopSite, ShopSite has a built-in mobile feature. If you choose this option, make sure you follow our recommendation for the Two Must Do things for mobile support in ShopSite

Test your mobile pages

Google provides two options for testing your pages:

Hopefully this gives you an overview of how important making your website mobile friendly is these days. Google is telling merchants that it will reward mobile sites after April 21, 2015. Already they mark search results as “mobile friendly” when someone searches from a mobile device.

Looking for a web host that understands ecommerce and business hosting?
Check us out today!


  1. Gari Anne says:

    So I guess I should look over those templates and pick one to switch to on my website?? It is probably due for a change anyway :)

Leave a Reply