SEO: Google Makes ‘Mobile-friendly’ a Ranking Signal

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Google Mobile Friendly Search

Is your site mobile friendly?

If your haven't already built your website for mobile devices, on April 21 you may find it harder to get google rank in Google’s mobile search engine esults.

Google announced algorithm updates that will have a “significant impact” on mobile search results worldwide for mobile searchers.  The update improves rankings for sites that provide a mobile-friendly experience to searchers on mobile devices, and, by association, demotes sites that do not.

They've already begun rolling out the new algorithm, and you may have already seen it.

Note that the "mobile-friendly" update only affects mobile search results (searches from smart phones and tablets) not searches conducted from a desktop or laptop computer.

The new mobile-friendly search algorithm is:

  • World-Wide
    All countries will get the algorithm update
  • Page-by-page
    Each page is judged separately (but a bad page won't affect your good ones)
  • In Real Time
    Each time your pages are crawled, it will determine it's mobile friendliness right away
According to Google, their goal is "to improve searcher experience. It’s frustrating to search on a phone and land on a page that’s so tiny you can’t accurately click the links without pinching and zooming and scrolling to find the right text or links."

Here's how the search results currently look:

Sites that are deemed "mobile friendly" will appear higher in the results, which could mean disaster for your business if your audience is is a mobile one.

How do you get the Mobile-friendly label on your website pages?

Google said it depends on if Google Bot detects the following criteria:
  • Avoids software that is not common on mobile devices, like Flash
  • Uses text that is readable without zooming
  • Pages size content to the screen so users don’t have to scroll horizontally or zoom
  • Places links far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily tapped

To see if your site is mobile ready, you can use Google's Mobile-Friendly Test site.

If you already have a site and Webmaster Tools, you can get a full list of mobile usability issues across your site using the Mobile Usability Report.

Resolving these issues may be as simple as a text change to your robots file, or as significant as a redesign to make your site responsive to mobile devices.

How will this impact my site?

This all depends on your current organic search traffic via mobile device, your audience and your competition.

The worst-case scenario is that all of the sales-driven organic search traffic via mobile devices disappears instantly when the change happens.This probably won't happen, but you may feel a significant loss.

Start by analyzing the affected traffic and sales today and determine the real impact of losing it all. Remember, filter the visits (and sales) so that the data only contains organic search-driven traffic via a mobile device. Then you can determine the impact to your business, or your sales if that traffic disappeared completely on April 21.

If you don't currently have much mobile traffic, then getting mobile-friendly will only improve your ranking and may draw in more customers who previously haven't found you on their mobile devices.