Google's Mobile-Friendly Algorithm Update

Google announced in late February that they will be updating their search algorithm on the 26th of April. The algorithm will benefit mobile-friendly websites on mobile searches, a factor which has previously had no affect on Google’s rank. The approaching update has the potential to improve your company’s organic search, if you are amenable to optimising your website with responsive design.

Mobile-friendly design will only affect your sites mobile ranking, not desktop ranking so if your website has little to no mobile searches then this update will likely have an insignificant affect on your total organic searches.

What does ‘mobile friendly’ mean?

‘Mobile-friendly’ is term for responsive design that adjusts to the reduced size of a mobile screen. Mobile friendly websites will automatically adjust for mobile viewing with:

  • Readable characters
  • Smaller image sizes
  • Faster load times 
  • Touch-screen friendly links

Responsive designs are far more user friendly, saving the reader from zooming in and scrolling from left to right to read text or clicking on the wrong link because they are too close together for the touch screen interface. Google favours responsive design, as it is the most ergonomic for the user.

Mobile Website vs. Mobile Friendly Websites

Mobile websites are designed specifically for mobile view and have a different domain name to their desktop equivalents. Mobile friendly is the more advanced responsive design that scales to any size, maintaining the same domain name. You can test your own websites responsiveness by condensing your browser window to a fraction of its size and observing:

  • Does the text adjust so you don’t have to scroll from left to right?
  • Do the banner images rescale or disappear?
  • Do you still have the same domain name when viewed on a mobile device?

 ie. Trimfit Bodies website, one of our clients, a good example of mobile-friendly website.

How to test mobile friendliness?

If you are still unsure about whether your website is mobile-friendly, Google has it’s own mobile-friendly test.

You can also test your website by searching it from your smartphone, and see if the words "Mobile-friendly" appear.

How Google’s update will affect your business

The upcoming update will create a divide between desktop and mobile search rankings. For example if your website ranks #1 under the keyword ‘digital marketing’ on a desktop it will most likely rank #1 on mobile. However after the 21st of April, this may not be the case.

Google described the update to have a ‘significant’ affect on mobile list ranking. The numerical definition of significant has yet to be disclosed but it is advisable to check how many mobile searches your site receives.

If it is only 2% then the change may not be necessary. However if your company receives 30% of its searches from mobile sources then you should seriously consider getting a web-responsive design to ensure you are receiving the maximum number of clicks possible.

A Case for Responsive Design

Even if your mobile searches are low there is still an argument for responsive design. Considering the upcoming algorithm change it is not unreasonable to infer that Google may update their desktop algorithm in favour of responsive design in the future.

Responsive design is more user-friendly and at the end of the day you should be designing for your clients. Pretty is currently in the process of doing what we have done for countless clients – going mobile-friendly ourselves! If you would like get more information on responsive design or apply it to your website, contact us and enjoy user-friendly, Google-friendly websites scalable for any size or device.

For more information on the algorithm update check the Moz discussion board, which addresses the 8 major questions people are asking about the change.


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