Today It's Official: Google Gives Preference to Mobile-Friendly Sites

By on April 21, 2015

Google is now giving preference in search results to mobile-friendly websites, and mobile search rankings for those that aren’t mobile-friendly may suffer. The official statement from Google

"Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results."

This announcement surprised many webmasters and web design and marketing agencies, as Google is usually mum about algorithm changes until after they’re already in place. In the past few months, however, Google has been encouraging web masters to go mobile-friendly by releasing testing tools, providing mobile usability reports and including mobile-friendly labels in search results. We had a feeling this was coming and have been advising clients accordingly, but until the announcement last winter few knew exactly when it would hit. Today it’s official.


Why Google is Emphasizing Mobile Web Design

Google strives to give users the most current and relevant results possible, and they continually revise their algorithms to achieve this. This recent change is designed to present mobile users sites that can be viewed and navigated easily on a mobile device.

According to ClickZ, nearly half of Google’s traffic came from mobile devices (phones or tablets) from June through November of 2014.


Why This DOES Apply to You

You may think that only a small percentage of your site’s traffic currently comes from mobile users, particularly if you’re at a B2B company. But that’s simply no longer the case. Our clients, many of them in B2B, are seeing up to 40% of their web traffic coming from mobile devices.

According to comScore, smartphones and tablets accounted for 60% of all digital media time in 2014, surpassing the desktop. Though much of that comes from app usage, rather than websites, it’s clear that mobile continues to climb while desktop usage is flattening out (see table from comScore below).

mobile vs. desktop usage is relevant to web design and marketing

Furthermore, according to Google’s studies, 61% of users are unlikely to return to a mobile site that they had trouble accessing from their phone.

For even more statistics about the global spread of mobile usage, check out Infographic: The Golden Age of Mobile.


Google’s Mobile Criteria

Google recommends that websites utilize responsive web design. In simple terms, that means a site uses one set of code, content and url, but shifts sizing and placement to best fit desktops, tablets and mobile phones.

Other factors that affect mobile usability that Google cares about include avoiding small fonts and links that are too close together on mobile. Google recommends using 16 points as a base font for mobile. They also want developers to configure the viewport to maximize the allowable real estate for each text block on mobile devices. Other steps include signaling your site’s configuration to search engines and redirecting desktop-only pages to working URLs on mobile.


How You Can Check Your Site

A low-tech way to check whether your website is responsive is to load it in a browser, click the corner of the window and drag to resize down. If it shifts to best fill the screen at narrower sizes, it’s responsive.

Google released a Mobile-Friendly Test that will analyze a url and let you know what, if any, mobile issues are present. They’ve also published a wealth of information about how to correct any errors that are found.


We’re Here to Help

If your website was developed more than a year-and-a-half ago, odds are high that it doesn’t meet all of Google’s mobile-friendly criteria. If that’s the case and you don’t have the time or technical expertise to research and address the issues on your own, we’re here to help. Ridge Marketing has extensive web design and marketing experience, we regularly build and maintain responsive websites and have Google-trained staff onsite. Simply contact us to learn more.

About Ridge Marketing

Ridge Marketing is an agency that specializes in crafting creative digital assets and using websites, search, advertising and email to ensure that the right prospects interact with your brand and become loyal customers.