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Changes to Google rankings for non-mobile websites.

On 21 April 2015, Google will be changing the way in which they rank websites within mobile search results.

Official Google announcement

On 26 February 2015, Google announced in a blog post upcoming changes to the way in which websites are ranked within mobile search results. According to the statement, starting 21 April 2015, Google will be expanding their use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal.

The statement goes on to say “this change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant Impact in our search results.”

It is rare that Google are so explicit about changes to their algorithms.

This change has been coming

Google has been telling webmasters to prepare for mobile for years. Evidence has been gradually building in the lead up to this algorithm update. Below are some of the most important changes.

Mobile PageSpeed Insights

In mid-2014, Google released an update to their PageSpeed Insights tool, giving webmasters tips on how to make their websites more mobile-friendly.

The ‘mobile-friendly’ tag

In mid-November 2014, as explained in this blog post, Google released an update to their mobile search results adding a ‘mobile-friendly’ tag next to certain results. This tag only appears when performing a Google search on a mobile device.

Google search showing ‘mobile-friendly’ tag

The Mobile-Friendly Testing Tool

Google also released a Mobile-Friendly Testing Tool, which you can use to see if your pages are classed as ‘mobile-friendly’.

Mobile Usability Warnings

In early-2015, Google started sending mass warnings to webmasters via their Google Webmaster Tools platform, notifying them if their websites were not mobile-friendly.


Example webmaster notification 

What this means for you

In short, if your website is not mobile-friendly, your rankings could suffer in mobile search results. If your business relies on traffic from search engines, you should strongly consider investing in making your website mobile-friendly.

Clearing up confusion

Some aspects of this update from Google may be confusing. From what we can see, the following things are true:

  • Responsive design doesn’t provide a ranking benefit over ‘mobile-only’ websites (however we would always recommend the former).
  • Mobile-friendliness appears to be determined by page, not site-wide.
  • Desktop and tablet searches will not be affected by this update.
  • If you haven’t received a notification from Google, that doesn’t mean you are safe.

If you would like to have a chat about this update or have questions feel free to get in touch with us. It’s important that you’re making informed decisions about your online presence and we want to make sure you have all the information you need.

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