On Thursday, February 26, 2015 Google released a BIG announcement. It’s been floating around for a while but now it’s been made official:
“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 optimised for their devices.”
Google also estimates that around 50% of searches are conducted from mobile devices, through mobile browsers and its own search apps. (Source The Guardian).
Back in 2008 Mary Meeker predicted, “Mobile to overtake fixed Internet access by 2014“, and sure enough it did as this report shows. The implications are wide and varied, too much to deal with in this post.
First off, don’t panic. As much as an en masse panic buy would keep us web developers busy and happy, Google tends to understand the massive impact their major updates can have and as with other major updates in the past they tend to roll them out gently.
That said don’t rest on your laurels, go to your analytics and get the information on how many people visit your site are doing so via ‘mobile’. You have probably seen a steady increase in mobile usage to your site over the years but if mobile usage is still a fairly low figure to your site you may want to prioritise other developments to your site that could see better returns.
However, you still need to move with the times and not get left behind. It’s inevitable that people will, at some point, start to search for your services on mobile devices and when they do if you’re not mobile friendly then you will be penalized from the 21st April 2015.
Not as expensive as it use to be and if you are considering a re-design anyway then not a whole lot more as the responsiveness can be considered as part of the design and built in as the site is constructed.
It will always be a little more complicated applying responsiveness to a design already in place, and of course the more complex the site the longer it will take. The more complex it is we can always advise at the point that it becomes cheaper to do a site rebuild rather than a retro fit.
Originally we thought this latest update would only effect searches made from mobile devices. Since implementing mobile responsiveness on client sites we have noticed an increase in SERPs (Search engine ranking position) on desktop searches also. We’ll keep an eye on things but at this moment it would seem any site (regardless of device used) would benefit from having their site responsive.
Google is now serving up different results for desktop v mobile. We have noticed on some search terms that sites which are mobile responsive do get better results when you search on mobile and you get slightly different information than you would on desktop.