Latest Mobile-Friendly Update Rolled Out by Google

20 May 2016

Latest Mobile-Friendly Update Rolled Out by Google

Around 18 months ago, the first ‘mobile friendly’ search was put in place by Google. Highlighting websites that were mobile friendly with a tag gave consumers an easy way to decide which website to click through to; those that were likely to be tiny text on a disproportionate, skewed background could be skipped without clicking, saving time and directing people to the sites that were likely to be compatible with their phone or tablet device.

So, people carrying out searches on mobile devices found that certain results were tagged with the words ‘Mobile Friendly’. This was when the term ‘mobilegeddon’ first arose, with sites that were not mobile optimised suffering lower click-through rates than those that were mobile friendly. Now, Google has updated its mobile-friendly algorithm once more, so what does this mean for your website?

1. If your website was already mobile friendly, Google states that you will not be impacted by this update. However, there is a chance that you could actually benefit from it, given that the signal is being boosted.

2. If your website is not mobile friendly, you could be penalised in the update. Have you noticed lower mobile traffic in your analytics? Filter away desktop traffic stats, which will be irrelevant to this algorithm, to work out what impact it has had.

3. Be aware that this algorithm assesses a website on a page-by-page basis, not as a whole. This may mean that, initially, you have mixed signals in your mobile search results, as the search engine takes time to crawl and index each page.

4. You can find out whether Google considers your website to be mobile friendly or not by using its free mobile-friendly testing tool, which will also give you pointers about how to improve your optimisation for mobile devices.

5. Remember that even though mobile friendliness is increasingly important, it is not the primary reason for a website ranking highly or not. The intent of the search query remains a very strong signal, so even websites that do not fulfil the characteristics of being mobile friendly could rank highly for particular search terms.

So what if your website is showing up as not being mobile friendly? Consider your options and choose whether you want a responsively designed website or a mobile website, then set about making your site mobile friendly. This will please your site visitors as well as Google, and could increase traffic and engagement as mobile users find it easier to navigate and interact with.

Further ranking penalty advice

Mobile friendliness is one factor, but there are many more to consider when you want your website to rank highly in Google search results.

Focus on avoiding spammy content, such as keyword-stuffed articles that are poor quality or duplicated from elsewhere on your site, and making sure the websites that link to your site are reputable and high quality.