Google update: Mobile-friendly factors WILL affect how your website ranks in mobile search results

Google announces new mobile ranking factors

At the end of February, Google announced that it will be expanding its use of ‘mobile-friendliness’ as a ranking factor from April 21, 2015.

The update will significantly alter the way that Google provides mobile results to its users. Its evaluation of a website’s ‘mobile-friendliness’ or in other words, how well it accommodates users on mobile devices, will be used as a ranking factor in mobile search results.

At the same time, the search giant also announced that it is starting to use information from indexed apps as a ranking factor for ‘signed-in’ users who have the app installed on their mobile device. App indexing allows webmasters to connect website pages to an Android app. The result of the most recent change is a push towards apps being featured much more prominently in search.

Google announced the news of both updates on its Webmaster Central Blog, stating that “As more people use mobile devices to access the internet, our algorithms have to adapt to these usage patterns” and followed this up by saying that they believe the changes will “have a significant impact” on search results.

Google is a long-standing advocate of ‘mobile-friendly’ content, and this update is just the latest in a long line of mobile specific changes over the past two years.

In June, 2013 Google announced ranking changes to address common configuration mistakes that generally result in a bad experience for mobile users.

In November, 2014 mobile friendly tabs were added to search results, visually displaying ‘mobile-friendly’ websites to users. In the same month, it launched its mobile testing tool which allows site owners to test their website against Google’s mobile-friendliness criteria.

A ‘Mobile Usability’ section has also been added to Google Webmaster Tools as a further means of providing feedback.

Additionally, Google also provides an extensive guide to creating ‘mobile-friendly’ websites.

In light of these changes, the key thing to bear in mind is that Google is clearly setting out its stall in regards to mobile user experience. It will promote websites that offer the best experience for mobile users over those that don’t. This means that, for example, properly optimised responsive and mobile specific websites will be at an advantage.

If your website does not currently meet Google’s ‘mobile-friendly’ criteria and you do not look to address this, it is likely that you will see reduced visibility across mobile search results and very possibly reduced traffic volumes as a result.

In response to the changes, some of the most important considerations are:

  • How important is mobile traffic to the success of your website?
  • How high is the proportion of traffic coming to your website?
  • How do mobile users interact with your website?

There is no doubt that mobile traffic is increasing at a rapid pace across the majority of industries. For example, a report from Cisco reveals mobile data traffic alone in 2014 was nearly 30 times the size of the global internet in 2000.

We would always recommend creating the best possible user experience for users across all devices; that said, a thorough understanding of the relationship between mobile users and your website will help you to create a scalable mobile strategy.

Our team will be contacting clients and providing further information about the recent changes. We are also more than happy to answer any questions in regards to concerns about the recent updates.





Georgina Rayner