In November Google stated that they would start labelling websites that were mobile-friendly. The idea was that this would give mobile users a better indication of whether it was worth clicking through to the result.
Today Google announced that they will consider mobile-friendly as a ranking signal. THAT is a big deal! In fact, I’d go so far as to say that is a game changer.
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. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.
This statement is so important. It’s that second line that really says it all… significant impact.
So if you have an in-house team, if you have the know-how or the budget, it sounds like it could well worth looking at your website design and seeing if you can factor in a new theme or a significant codebase change!
Of course, the big sites will already be mobile ready or would have the skills and budget to get ready for this significant change. It’s the smaller websites I worry about with limited resources, tight budgets and enough on their plates already. If you’re working hard to balance the books and turn a profit, the last thing you need is the world’s most dominant search engine telling you to spend more money or lose out on traffic. Because, let’s face it, you need a responsive design or you will miss out.
I predict a wave of speculative unsolicited electronic mail messages, driving home the threat of losing rankings unless there is spend on mobile design.
54 days isn’t much warning, is it?
Mobile-Friendly Test, 54 Days Early
Check if your website is compliant with Google’s mobile-friendly test. It’s not 100% foolproof* but, if it’s an indicator of whether Big G believes your website will render and be useful on mobile devices, then you can’t argue with that.
* Why is the Google mobile-friendly test not 100% accurate? It’s because I ran a test on an e-commerce website that I am involved in rebuilding and it showed the site to be compliant. However, a visual scan of the same site revealed a couple of issues that the Google crawl did not:
- CTAs embedded in the carousel images became unreadable on mobile.
- Control buttons on the carousel covered the visual CTAs
- You may even ask what is the point of a carousel on a mobile site – I’ve worked on a project for a global brand where they canned the carousel for the mobile version.
These are just a few examples of how the mobile-friendly test from Google is not infallible.