Google: making the web more mobile friendly

Written by: Richard Richard
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Google logoWe all heard about the big mobile friendly Google algorithm update from April last year. The 21st of april 2015, at that time better known as ‘mobilepocalyse’ or ‘mobilegeddon’: the end of mobile unfriendly websites. At least that’s what everyone was thinking when Google announced the mobile friendly update. And yes it did have its impact on Google's mobile search results, but the impact wasn’t as big as expected. Yes mobile friendly websites did get some better rankings, but then again not as much as expected. The impact on non mobile friendly websites was bigger, but still some hardly noticed anything of this. Well that’s going to change! Google announced another mobile update in order to ‘continue making the web more mobile friendly’. This announcement shakes things up, because this time the impact for non mobile friendly sites probably will be bigger than last years update. So if your site still isn't mobile friendly start making some changes.

Small recap of the 21st of April mobile update

The 21st of april 2015: on this day Google launched its biggest mobile algorithm change in history. The main focus for this update was to provide a Google search user with the best possible answer on the device he’s using. Meaning a mobile friendly website with the right content has a better chance of ranking in the top results on the mobile search results. With this update Google checks all web pages on mobile friendliness with focus on user experience.

Mobile friendly

Mobile friendly in short means a page where

  • You don’t have to zoom to read the text
  • You don’t have to scroll horizontally
  • The links aren’t too close to each other
  • All clickable parts on the website are easily clickable

Google announced that this update will only affect the mobile search results, so desktop rankings wouldn't suffer when the website isn’t mobile friendly.

Almost one year later

Today, the 16th of March 2016, almost one year after ‘mobilegeddon’ we can conclude the update had impact but this wasn’t as big as expected. We did see some changes in the mobile search results. Changes were higher rankings for some mobile friendly websites.

There was more impact for, as expected, non friendly websites. These sites had an average loss of 0,21 positions in the rankings (desktop & mobile). Looking at only mobile search the impact was bigger for these websites (loss of about 2,1 positions). Content marketing company BrightEdge tracked over 20.000 urls since the Google update. They report a decrease of 21% in non friendly url on the first 3 pages in the search results. With a more significant impact on pages 2-3, while page 1 results have only seen a 17,3% decrease.

Also Moz did some analysis on the search results pages after the Google update. These also result in not as much impact as expected. It only shows a slight increase of mobile friendly results on the search results.

So yes we did see some impact on the search results after 21st of april 2015, but the impact wasn’t as big as we all thought it would be. Still some non friendly websites have decent rankings and only had minimal impact on traffic by the mobile update.

Bigger impact

But that is until now! Why? Because Google announced another mobile update today. An update to ‘make the web more mobile friendly’. Google: “Today we’re announcing that beginning in May, we’ll start rolling out an update to mobile search results that increases the effect of the ranking signal to help our users find even more pages that are relevant and mobile-friendly” So yes, the impact for non mobile friendly websites will be bigger than last year. Same goes for mobile friendly pages which will definitely see a boost in positions this year. Why? Because yet again Google announced this update, the only and last time they did this was with the previous mobile update.

Importance of mobile friendly

Conclusion: mobile is important for Google and they want you to know that it’s important. You can see this announcement as sort of a last warning for non mobile friendly websites. So, still operating with a non mobile friendly website? Shame on you. In May Google will make changes to its mobile algorithm and when your website isn’t mobile friendly, you’re out of the game for sure. Keep in mind that over 50% of the Google searches are being made on a mobile device. How’s that for an impact when your page is no longer shown in these results?