Google Says Mobile Friendly Websites Will Rank Higher Than Mobile Unfriendly Sites

Google Algorithm Update Makes Mobile Responsive Websites  Essential to Rankings

Major mobile SEO news just announced by Google: Is your website mobile responsive and adaptive to every screen? If not, you should know that Google has just quietly released a mobile algorithm update that will reward mobile responsive websites with higher search results, while punishing mobile unfriendly websites by burying or removing those sites entirely from the mobile search index.

Google Rewards Mobile Friendly Websites In Search

Update: Originally Google started sending out warnings to website owners who’s sites weren’t mobile-friendly. It now appears that they’ve moved forward and released a new mobile algorithm update which will punish sites that aren’t mobile friendly, with decreased rankings. This updated is further explained at the end of this article.

For the last 4 years, I’ve been pushing mobile responsive, mobile adaptive websites to every past, current, and potential client. To be honest, I’ve likely pushed mobile-friendly websites to pretty much anyone who’d listen.

Today, I implore you to ensure your website is not only mobile-friendly, and mobile responsive, but more so that your site is adaptive to every screen size.

Why is this so important to me and why should it be so important to you?


Google Sent Warnings To Mobile-Unfriendly Websites

Just last week, reported that Google, the world’s biggest search engine, officially started sending warnings to websites that have “critical mobile usability errors”.

That’s right, if your website isn’t mobile-friendly, your mobile search rankings are going to drop, if not disappear. No joke.

Google Mobile Algorithm Warning
Google Mobile Algorithm Warning

Keep in mind that these notifications via Google Webmaster Tools are just warnings and not penalties, yet. But note the key sentence in the message:

“These pages will not be seen as mobile-friendly by Google Search, and will therefore be displayed and ranked appropriately for smartphone users.”

What that means to me is simply, if your site doesn’t meet Google’s “mobile-friendly” requirements, your rankings on mobile search will drop or disappear from search.

When they say the site will “be ranked appropriately for smartphone users”, they mean if your site provides a poor user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) when viewed on smartphones, Google won’t deem your site as one that is a relevant, quality site to a users search query.

If your competitors website is mobile-friendly and mobile responsive/adaptive, chances are they will out rank you on mobile search. If your business is a local business that relies on local search and a local SEO strategy, you better start looking at your website now.


Why Google Demands Mobile-Friendly Websites

Multiple Mobile Devices - Mobile Algorithm Update
Your Customers Use Multiple Mobile Devices

Is this really even a question that needs to be asked? Take a look on the street today, or on public transit, or at the cafe or lunch spot you frequent. Chances are you’ll see more people with their face in their phones than without.

We live in a fast paced mobile society where users want access to information about your business, or worse, your competitors, at an instant. All users come equipped with a smart hone and free WiFi somewhere close by.

Google wants to serve up answers to your customers search queries, via websites that are relevant and provide a smooth (and fast) UI and UX. If you’re a smart content marketer, you’re already optimizing your content for your customers, right? So why aren’t you optimizing your website experience for those same customers future prospects?

Since the future will live on multiple screens and all internet users will be using a handful of different devices to access the information they need, the user’s mobile experience is very important to Google.

Does Your Social Strategy Include Prime Time?

I have a secret. It’s based on the belief that at times pop-culture truly drives social media. When we create marketing personas at our shop (LINK), we always dig deep in to the personas lifestyle and behaviours.

This includes targeting personas while they are comfy on their couch watching their favourite TV show while either live tweeting or surfing on their second screen.

second screening
Second Screening

Why you ask? Check out these numbers for your answer:

  • 50% of Google search traffic is mobile.
  • 22.5% of all online sales during the 2014 holiday season were made through mobile devices.
  • Over 80% of US citizens admit to using the “second screen” (smartphones and tablets) while watching TV.
  • 90% of your customers and prospects switch between devices in order to accomplish their goal, which is usually mobile shopping.

Do you have an effective mobile content marketing strategy with a solid plan to execute that digital strategy via the appropriate social media platforms, at the appropriate time?

If not, and you want to get started growing your business, contact me today.


UPDATE: Google Quietly Released a Mobile Algorithm Update

I’ve been waiting for this one. I, along with several other SEOs, started noticing that at the end of 2014, Google started to add the phrase “mobile-friendly” to websites that, in their eyes, met “mobile-friendly” standards.

In other words, Google was letting users know which sites were mobile responsive and adaptive to fit smartphones and tablets. I included this new feature as Tip #3 in an article I wrote for, “5 Facts Business Owners Need To Know About SEO in 2015”.


example of mobile-friendly website in Google search
How Mobile Friendly Websites Appear on Mobile Search


Note that the “mobile-friendly” phrase only appears on mobile searches. It won’t show up if you perform a search on your laptop.


A New Mobile Algorithm

It seems Google has decided to roll out a new mobile algorithm. This was based on the “warning” that I mentioned at the top of this post. The evidence lies in the fact that as of this week, many site owners have been moaning about negative changes with their mobile search rankings.

Matt Southern reported this on

“David Naylor, of UK Agency Bronco, published a story over the weekend detailing the evidence thus far that points towards a mobile-specific Google algorithm update. Not the least of this evidence is the fact that most webmasters who have seen their rankings drop have major mobile usability issues on their websites.

Further evidence came last week when Google’s John Mueller was asked about an algorithm update during one of his scheduled Google+ Hangouts. Mueller stated the update was not related to either Panda or Penguin, which leaves the possibility of a new type of algorithm update targeting mobile usability.”


It Gets Even Worse

If your site isn’t up to Google’s “mobile-friendly” standards, your site could potentially disappear from mobile search rankings.

That’s some scary sh*t.

This article on basically says that Google is now “reducing visibility” for any sites that aren’t seen as mobile-friendly.

“For users that may not have made their sites mobile friendly yet, if they are affected by this new mobile algo, it will likely show pretty clearly a dramatic drop in mobile traffic without a corresponding drop in desktop traffic. Site seem to be ranking as usual in desktop, however the unfortunate thing is that some webmasters might not realize that a drop in traffic is strictly mobile related.”


The Wrap

To sum this up is pretty simple.

  1. Google prefers websites that have basic website optimization (SEO) set upon the back end – for all pages, links, images, and other content.
  1. Google prefers websites that load fast (1-3 seconds max).
  1. Google will now begin to only rank mobile-friendly websites on all mobile searches.
  1. If your business relies on Local search and mobile search, this new mobile algorithm update will have significant implications on your SEO, rankings, and ultimately the bottom line of your business.


If you want some help crafting a mobile marketing strategy and how to optimize your website for Google’s mobile search algorithm, I’d be happy to help. Please email me today or reach out on Twitter or LinkedIn.


* Featured Image Source


2 thoughts on “Google Says Mobile Friendly Websites Will Rank Higher Than Mobile Unfriendly Sites

Comments are closed.