Google posted an announcement on their Webmaster Central Blog on February 26th about an upcoming change to their ranking algorithm for mobile-friendly search results. Yesterday it was reported that Zineb Ait Bahajji from Google’s Webmaster Trends team was quoted at SMX Munich as saying that this algoritm change will have more of an impact on Google’s search results than the Panda and Penguin updates did.
What is this change?
The algorithm change by Google will expand on the use of mobile-friendliness as a signal for ranking websites. Websites that are mobile-friendly will rank higher and consequently, sites that are not mobile-friendly may see their ranking drop. This change will go into effect on April 21st, 2015.
Why is this change important?
Google has been saying for some time now that mobile search is increasing in prevalence and that as much as 50% of searches are now performed from a mobile device. They’ve been displaying the helpful Mobile-friendly text in search results since November 2014 to help us to identify sites that are mobile-friendly when we search from our mobile devices.
This announcement in February by Google provides website owners a warning to make their websites mobile-friendly as a priority in preparation for this algorithm change.
If this change is as significant as Google says, and to quote their announcement this change “will have a significant impact in our search results”, then website owners should prepare now by testing their site and ensuring it is mobile-friendly. Failure to do so “may” result in a negative change in rankings come April.
You may also have received, or may well receive, an email from Google with a mobile usability report. An example is shown below.
What should I do?
The first thing you can do is test your website to make sure it is mobile-friendly. Google provides two free tools for this:
- If you want to test a few pages, you can use the Mobile-Friendly Test.
- If you want to test an entire website, you can use your Google Webmaster Tools account to get a full list of mobile usability issues across your entire site using the Mobile Usability Report. You will find this in Google Webmaster Tools by going to Search Traffic, Mobile Usability.
Google also provides a guide to mobile-friendly sites.
If the result from this testing shows mobile usability issues that need to be fixed then contact us for assistance and we can discuss what is involved with fixing these issues.
It is important to take action now and be prepared for the release of this algorithm change on April 21st. It’s impossible to predict what the impact on your site’s ranking will be but if the indications from Google are anything to go by, this will have a significant impact for sites that are not mobile-friendly.
Contact us for more information and for assistance with testing and fixing mobile usability issues.