From April 21st, Google will start to roll out its new Mobile-Friendly Ranking Algorithm, using “mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal.”  Put simply, this means that if your website is mobile-friendly, you are more likely to be ranked for any Google searches occurring on mobile devices. On the flipside, if you’re not mobile-friendly, your rankings will be significantly impacted.

Why are Google introducing this algorithm change?

More and more people are searching on the go, with different estimates suggesting that 50 – 60% of all Google searches are performed on mobile devices. Google’s goal is to provide users with high quality, relevant search results. They are now taking steps to ensure that mobile searches offer up mostly mobile-friendly results.

What is changing?

In introducing this algorithm change, google will use mobile-friendliness as one of the ranking signals to determine the results for mobile searches.

But it’s important to remember that mobile-friendliness is just one signal among more than 200 factors that determine search ranking results. It is not the only factor, so having a mobile-friendly site will not automatically rocket you to the top of the search results if the other factors are ignored. It will, however, (according to Google) play a “significant part” in your ranking.

The algorithm change is specific to mobile searches (not searches performed on desktop / laptop).

So what is mobile friendly?

It’s easier to look at what is not mobile friendly.

  • If users have to pinch or zoom to see the details of your website, it’s not mobile friendly.
  • If your website is simply squashed in to fit on the mobile screen, it’s not mobile friendly.
  • If you are using software that’s not recognised by all mobile devices (e.g. Flash), it’s not mobile friendly.
  • If your buttons or links are too close together, so that “fat finger syndrome” leads to users hitting the wrong links or ending up in the wrong place, it’s not mobile friendly.
  • If you have small font sizes, it’s not mobile friendly.

But it’s not up to what you think, it’s whether Google recognises your site as mobile friendly.  And to help, they have created this tool to help you evaluate your site’s mobile-friendliness and identify any issues that you may face as the algorithm changes.

The algorithm will evaluate pages on a page-by-page basis, so it’s important to test each page on your website, not just the home page.  And there are no degrees of mobile-friendliness, your pages are either mobile-friendly or they’re not.

What do you need to do?

Test your website using Google’s mobile-friendly test, remembering to test a range of pages throughout your website.  if the results come back as mobile-friendly, you’re good to go.

If not, talk to your web developer about making the necessary changes before April 21st.

You can also google yourself now using your smartphone.  While it’s not yet a factor in the search rankings, mobile-friendly websites are already being tagged as such in mobile search results (the words Mobile Friendly appear at the start of the search listing in grey).

Other Resources:

Google Developers Mobile Guide

Google Developers Mobile Friendly Test

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