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Thursday 2 April 2015

Google drops the m-bomb with mobile friendly update

So, Google has announced that as of 21st April, websites which are not “mobile friendly” can expect to see a downranking in their search listing results.

According to the release, Google is refreshing it’s algorithm to “adapt to the changes in usage patterns and direct mobile users to more mobile friendly results”.

This isn’t the most surprising news, given that in January, Nick Leeder, (CEO Google France) announced that mobile was now accounting for 25% of all search enquiries and is increasing year on year.

A full copy of the Google mobile friendly update statement can be seen here:

The line within it that’s setting hearts-a-flutter is: “we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal”

As yet, what this means exactly for sites which aren’t mobile ready, isn’t fully understood, but it’s a pretty safe assumption that these latest updates will in fact begin to down-rank those which aren’t from 21st April. How severely, remains to be seen.

You can test precisely how Google rates your site in mobile terms by clicking here:

It’s worth noting that there are over 200 different ranking signals which Google currently scores sites against and precisely how influential mobile friendliness will become among them is not clear, but our thoughts around how the “significant impact” might effect search results is below:

  • It will only effect searches made on mobile devices.
  • It will only effect organic search listings. Advertisers using Google Adwords are still likely to see their PPC impressions on mobile searches, whether their sites are mobile ready or not.
  • If a search is made for a domain directly, ie it’s unlikely the return will be supressed, even if the site isn’t mobile ready. Of course is, but ultimately Google will still want to redirect you to the most appropriate result for that domain - even if it compromises user experience.
  • Sites currently set up for desktop only will begin to lose organic mobile search traffic to competitor sites which are mobile ready. This will be most damaging for B2B and B2C sites comepting for search traffic around similar search terms and / or product names. These are the sites for whom the alarm bells should be ringing.

Of course, other search engines are available, but with Google accounting for a reported 87% of all searches, it’s going to be hard for those businesses yet to make the switch to responsive / mobile design to ignore, if they want to be found by mobile users.

The time to embrace mobile is now. For those not yet onboard, the Google mobile friendly update is the sound of the bell ringing in the last chance saloon… now is the time to drink up.

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