Google today announced it is rolling out an update to mobile search results in May that “increases the effect” of its mobile-friendly ranking signal. The goal is to “help our users find even more pages that are relevant and mobile-friendly,” though the company didn’t share exactly how much of an impact it expects the change to have.
In November 2014, Google started labeling sites as “mobile-friendly” to denote which pages are optimized for phones. In February 2015, Google announced plans to roll out mobile ranking changes on April 21 (an unprecedented move — the company almost never announces algorithm changes in advance).
A webpage is eligible for the “mobile-friendly” label if it meets the following criteria, as detected in real time 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
As promised, Google started using this label as a ranking factor across all languages worldwide in April. Dubbed “Mobilegeddon” (does that make this Mobilegeddon 2?), the change applied to individual pages, not entire websites.
In short, if you still haven’t updated your site, you have even more reason to do so now, before May. To check if Google deems your site mobile-friendly, use the Mobile-Friendly Test. Google also offers a Webmaster Mobile Guide with more details for web developers.
If, for whatever reason, you’re not interested in search engine optimization (SEO), these are still steps you should make an effort to take. Even if your site doesn’t rely on mobile search traffic from Google, improving your mobile site’s performance definitely can’t hurt — your users will definitely appreciate it.
And of course, if your site is already mobile-friendly, Google promises you will not be affected by this update.