Google Mobile-Friendly Algorithm Update

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google friendly websitesIn late February, Google announced that on Aril 21, 2015, they would begin to use mobile-friendliness as a ranking metric for sites, thus ensuring more mobile-friendly websites in search results.

Amid much speculation on just what this might entail and how it would affect websites, in an official release after the launch, Google stated:

“This update:

  • Affects only search rankings on mobile devices
  • Affects search results in all languages globally 
  • Applies to individual pages, not entire websites”


The factors Google is considering in ranking mobile friendliness include: text that is too small to read, a mobile viewport that is not set, content that is too wide for the screen, and links that are too close together.

While the SEO industry and businesses have been quite aflutter about this in the past few weeks, it really shouldn’t have come as too big of a shock, since the trend has been driving in this direction for a while now. Read back through blogs and forums over the past year and you’ll see topics about “benefits of responsive design”, “optimizing your site for mobile users”, etc.  Bruce Clay confirms this with the assessment, “We can assume that responsive sites will be favored by Google in search results going forward, and this is the first real step in that process.”

There are a variety of reasons for Google to incorporate mobile friendliness into the search ranking algorithm.  At the 2015 SMX, Google’s Matt Cutts said that he “wouldn’t be surprised” if mobile search exceeded desktop queries this year.  National and International stats support this projection.  Due to the importance given to mobile friendly ranking by Google, it is predicted that in the not too distant future, mobile ranking will begin to impact desktop ranking as well.

Over the past year, we have seen a significant shift to responsive design in both new and rebuilt websites, doing away with the need to build and maintain two different versions of a site.  And Google is clear that a responsive site is their preferred method of serving content, so we fully expect they will continue to give preference to those sites identified as mobile friendly.  In current search results, you will find the “mobile-friendly” notation under the url and in front of the META description, as seen below.

Why is Mobile Important?

So why all the fuss?  Internet user trend is consistently increasing for mobile devices and there is a proven connection between mobile and local searches.  According to Google’s Mobile Playbook, a great resource for businesses or webmasters looking to understand and optimize mobile performance, 94 percent of smartphone users mobile search for location information.

Greg Sterling, via Search Engine Land writes, “Globally mobile traffic is about 30 percent of all Internet activity. That’s also the case in North America.  There are roughly 2 billion PCs in the world and more than 5 billion mobile devices. Thus it is inevitable that both mobile internet traffic and mobile search will ultimately surpass the PC globally.” 

Next Steps in Mobile Optimization

The first step is to ensure your website is responsive and has mobile-friendly status from Google. Once you’ve done that, it is time to look to next steps. This will vary depending on your business or industry.  But with the importance Google is giving to mobile sites and mobile usage data, it is wise to utilize your mobile presence to the fullest.  You can go beyond just having a mobile-friendly, responsive site to implementing a mobile marketing strategy.  The SEO experts at Cityline Websites can help ensure your website is mobile-friendly as well as helping you develop your mobile marketing plan. Contact us today for a free consultation.


Mobile Friendly Testing Tool

Google Blog: Rolling out the mobile-friendly update

The Mobile Playbook by Google

Google FAQ for Webmasters

Mobile Usability Report to Google Webmaster Tools

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