In the last couple of years we have moved beyond the desktop/mobile tipping point. According to the UK Office for National Statistics 68% of adults used the Internet ‘on the go’ in the year to August 2014. Of those 58% used a mobile phone or smart phone, and 43% used a laptop or tablet.*
As more and more people access the web with a mobile device rather than a desktop there was always going to be a case for having a mobile friendly website. Recently Google made that case inescapable.
Earlier this year Google made the following statement: “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.“
The underlining is my own. Let me explain why I have highlighted these parts of the statement.
Firstly, Google hardly ever gives advanced warning of changes to its algorithm. Usually they make a change and let us run around like headless chickens trying to understand what’s happening and come up with a solution. To give a specific date is almost unprecedented.
Secondly, you will notice this only applies to searches performed on a mobile device. Google has become the number one search engine and retained that spot by being customer friendly. It makes sense that if you are searching using a mobile device you will want the results to be mobile friendly. The first hint that Google was heading in this direction was when they started labelling mobile friendly sites in their search results last year. At the time it was thought this was an indication that Google would start making mobile friendliness a ranking factor, so this is a direction they’ve been heading in for some time.
Lastly, the use of the phrase ‘significant impact’shows that Google expects this new ranking factor to push non-mobile friendly websites off the front pages of their results.
So is it time to panic and get a mobile friendly site by April 21? Well, that depends on your prospects. Take a look at your analytics and see how many are viewing your site using a mobile device. If the vast majority are, then I suggest it’s time to take action.