Non mobile-friendly sites are about to take a Google search hit

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

When you Google your site do you see something like this?

Mobile-friendly in Google search

Let’s make that a little clearer:

Highlighted mobile friendly

If you don’t, you have a problem. As of 21st April 2015 (the day this post is being published), Google isn’t just highlighting mobile-friendly sites in search results – it’s ranking mobile-friendly sites better.

Essentially, if your site:

  • Gets significant search traffic
  • Has a significant number of mobile visitors
  • Doesn’t have a mobile responsive site

then you can prepare yourself for a rapid drop in traffic.

This doesn’t change search traffic from desktop and laptop computers – just mobile devices (phones, basically – tablets are not included). But given that we’re rapidly pushing towards over 50% of web traffic coming from mobile – that’s pretty significant.

I have limited sympathy for publishers who aren’t ready, because we’ve known that mobile was going to be important for at least four years now. That’s a lot of time to prepare. And yet, I’ve seen sites in the last few days which manifestly aren’t ready.

Google’s decision makes perfect sense: why should they send traffic to sites which are poor experiences for their users? But given how backward some publishers’ understanding of SEO can be, I fully expect some panic in the next few weeks are they start to see traffic drops…

Of course, publishers aren’t the only guilty ones. As Neville flags up, many big corporates aren’t ready for mobilegeddon, either. Although the formal announcement that this was coming only hit in February, the signal have been clear for years. But it sometimes takes more than clear signals to trigger a website redesign – and those companies that have held back will pay the price in the coming months.

Want to know if your site is ready? Use Google’s Mobile Friendly Test tool.

Googlemobilemobile internetpublishing strategySEO

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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.