Google Now Rewarding Mobile-Friendly Websites

Today Google rolled out an algorithm change that is designed to reward websites that are “mobile-friendly” and demote those that aren’t. What does this mean and how might this impact your business?


First, we think it’s important to remember the goal of Google’s search engine, which is to deliver its users (people who search for things on Google) the best experience possible. Google’s job is to match the intent of the searcher with the best possible results. There are many factors that go into its ranking of one site over another and those so called ‘ranking factors’ are always in motion. However, in light of growing mobile usage, one of the factors that has risen in importance is having a website that is “friendly” for mobile users. 

What does it mean to be mobile-friendly?

Google wants people who access your website via a mobile device to have a good experience. According to Google, this means it should meet the following criteria as detected by Googlebot:

  • Avoids software that is not common on mobile devices, like Flash
  • Uses text that is readable without zooming
  • Sizes content to the screen so users don’t have to scroll horizontally or zoom
  • Places links far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily tapped

How can I test if my website is mobile-friendly?

One way to know if your site is mobile-friendly is to check it against Google’s own indexing. You can look at your listing in mobile search results and see if it has the mobile friendly label.

Here’s an example:


You can also check your pages with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test

What happens if my website isn’t mobile-friendly?

It depends. Mobile traffic now makes up an estimated 60 percent of all web traffic but your own web traffic might be different. If your traffic from mobile users is small and your site isn’t optimized for mobile, you probably won’t notice the difference even if your search rankings take a hit. The impact might just be incremental. However, if your traffic from mobile is high (our hotel clients tend to be in this category), the lack of a mobile-friendly site could result in a significant decline in traffic from Google Search and that could be very impactful.

If I don’t get a lot of traffic from mobile do I need to worry about this?

Yes! While you might not be impacted today, it is a very good idea to recognize the growing trend of mobile and understand that while your visitors might not come from mobile right now, statistics show that more people are planning to go “mobile only.” Consider this your wake up call and start working toward meeting the mobile-friendly goal soon.

Will all of my rankings be impacted?

The Google mobile-friendly algorithm update impacts searches from mobile only. It has no affect on searches from desktops or tablets. It has also been reported that the algorithm change will not impact Google’s local search results from mobile, which should be a relief to many of our clients who are non-mobile friendly and rely on local search.

How can I fix my site?

Google supports three mobile configurations: responsive web design, dynamic serving, and separate URLs. Responsive design is Google’s recommended approach because it focuses on offering a consistent experience with one URL for all content. Responsive designs can also be expanded easily to accommodate new devices as they emerge. 

Every site is different so we invite you to talk to us about how we would approach transforming your site from its current configuration to a responsive design.

About the Author

Cristi is president and founder of Spark Inbound Marketing, an inbound marketing agency dedicated to high quality content creation and smart strategies to help companies attract more visitors and leads.