What to Expect from Google’s Mobile-Friendly Algorithm

25th March 2015


We’ve known for several years that responsive web design is incredibly valuable. Mobile-friendly websites have been consistently outperforming their desktop-only counterparts. On the 21st April a decisive shift will take place in the web design industry that will have implications for every business website. Here’s what to expect from Google’s mobile-friendly algorithm.

What to Expect from Google’s Mobile-Friendly Algorithm

Google are constantly updating their search algorithms. These are the complex processes that attribute value to websites and help to create accurate, useful search results. Google’s algorithms are of particular interest to web designers and SEOs because they let us know what’s needed to get our clients’ websites ranking higher in the search engine results.

From time to time, Google bring out a high-profile update that has widespread repercussions. Panda and Penguin are two of Google’s best known algorithm updates. The reason that these changes are so important is that they can result in overnight ranking drops for websites that don’t meet the new best practice. In other words, successful businesses that don’t comply with the new changes face the prospect of a huge, immediate drop in rankings, traffic and ultimately revenue.

The big news at the moment is that Google’s new mobile-friendly algorithm is going to reward mobile-friendly sites – and punish those that aren’t. Whilst we can never be sure of how this is going to take effect, it’s good news for responsive websites and a cause for concern for older sites that aren’t mobile-friendly.

Why is Google’s Mobile-Friendly Algorithm so Concerned by Responsive Design?

At the heart of the new algorithm is Google’s desire to make search as relevant and useful as possible. With around 50% of all web traffic coming through mobile devices, Google know that their users have very particular needs. If there are two websites that offer a great answer to a particular search query, Google know that with such high numbers of mobile-users it makes more sense to point users to the mobile-friendly version.

Google have said that the new algorithm update will have a “significant impact” on search results. This most likely means that responsive websites which offer a high quality user experience will notice an increase in traffic. Desktop-only sites are likely to face a big drop. Whilst this will vary from site to site, in competitive niches it may be very serious news for businesses with outdated websites.

What Can I do about Google’s Mobile-Friendly Algorithm

Google have a number of tools that you can use to work out how mobile-friendly your website is. These include their mobile usability reports and the mobile friendly testing tool.

If you already have a responsive website then the changes on the 21st April shouldn’t have a negative effect, although it’s worth checking in with your web designer to ensure that everything is working properly on your website. If you have a desktop-only site, then now is a good time to consider upgrading to a responsive website at the next opportunity.