By John Eberhard
As I covered in a past article, Google is making some changes on April 21 whereby they will penalize any sites after that date that are not mobile friendly. What this means is that if your site is ranking well for certain keywords, and you are getting a certain amount of traffic from Google, that if your site is not mobile friendly by April 21 you could find that you don’t rank as well and your traffic from Google would decrease.
So, as a result many people are considering how to make their sites mobile friendly if they are not currently.
I want to advise everyone on a potential concern with making a change to a mobile friendly format. Specifically, if you have an HTML site now, meaning a site that is not in WordPress or another content management system (CMS), and where you page names end in htm or html, then changing to WordPress or another CMS as a means to make your site mobile friendly, could hurt your search engine rankings.
In other words, if you are ranking well for certain keywords now, and you have pages that end in htm or html, and you switch to say WordPress, your page yoururl.com/about.html, will now be yoururl.com/about/. In other words, all your page addresses will change. This means that all the links out there on the web that link to your pages (except for links to the home page) will now go nowhere. So you will lose a lot of link value, and as a result Google will lower your rankings.
So you will have taken an action (converting to mobile to avoid a Google penalty), that ended up getting you a different penalty (because you lost links).
I mention this potential problem because converting a site to WordPress is one typical and efficient way to make a site responsive (Not all WordPress sites are responsive but a WordPress site can be made responsive). But if you have an HTML site now, and you have some decent rankings, you could lose a lot of the value of those rankings if you convert to a WordPress format.
Is There a Solution?
Yes there is! An adaptive web design is where you set up a separate version of the web site, usually in a sub-folder, that is mobile friendly. Your current web site is untouched, except that some code is placed on the site that detects if the viewer is on a mobile device. If so they are redirected to the mobile version.
This method passes Google’s test for mobile compatibility, and you will not lose any rankings that you currently have.
Usually an adaptive web site does not have as many pages as your regular site (usually 10-15 pages), but it can have all of the same pages, if you have a large site.