Jun 14, 2016
So it's official - Googles mobile-friendly algorithm is coming. Ready or not, Google will be using mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal on its mobile search results from April 21st, this news came in the form of a post on the Google Webmaster Central Blog at the end of February.
So before we dive into the nitty gritty, I think the first thing to mention is that this change will not affect desktop search results and will only be reflected in mobile search results. Savvy!?
Ok, that said, game on with the particulars. There are a few main points that can be taken from the recent news about the update, so what better than a good old list to break them down.
Around 30% of search queries are coming through mobiles, now that's a pretty large chunk and it is only set to get bigger. So answering those queries with a responsive website that looks great on mobile is really important and come the 21st of April it will be essential if you want those mobile users' to find your website. Google has been using the 'mobile-friendly' tag in search results to show its users which websites will perform well on their phone. This tag has been used for some time but has only been a suggestion to Google users. However, on April 21st things will get serious and that 'mobile-friendly' factor will become a ranking signal and mix up the current search results. To what degree the results will change is uncertain at the moment and only time will tell.
This may spell good news for some websites out there. If for some reason your website has certain pages that are responsive and some that are not then those pesky non responsive pages will not drag down the search position of the pages on your website that are responsive. Even though this is the case, focusing on developing a fully responsive website that presents your content well across all devices is still the best thing to aim for.
This is a double edged sword. On the one side this could be great if your website is not responsive or has elements that are non responsive, fixing these elements will take immediate effect due the the real time algorithm, good news! However if your website is responsive and has the 'mobile-friendly' seal of approval and for some reason you make an update on the website that is not responsive then this will have a negative affect immediately. A sharp double edge sword but also avoidable.
This update is ultimately going to shake up the mobile search results a lot and in Googles words "This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results". Even though the affects of this update are as yet unsure, I believe this is a great move forwards. We, as Web Designers have been designing and developing responsive websites for years now, and with Progressive Enhancement growing in popularity mobile design is in most cases now being put first in the design process. This change is going to reinforce that and overall provide Googles users with the best online experience on their mobile.