To help us provide you with free impartial advice, we may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site. Learn more

Google mobile search results set for massive shake-up

Google set to punish sites that are not mobile-friendly

Website owners are in for a nervous 24 hours, with Google set to make a massive shake-up of its search rankings on mobile devices, which could see some sites plummet down the rankings. The search giant is set to punish publishers that don’t make their websites mobile-friendly, potentially resulting in many businesses – both big and small – seeing a sharp decline in their search traffic. 

Google announced in February that it would be altering the way sites are ranked when people perform searches on their smartphones, rewarding those who optimise their sites for mobile users. “As more people use mobile devices to access the internet, our algorithms have to adapt to these usage patterns,” Google wrote. “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. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimised for their devices.”

The changes are likely to hit small businesses, who don’t necessarily have the resources to implement responsive design on their websites, more than big publishers. However, even sites such as the homepage of the European Union fall foul of a Google test to see whether a site is sufficiently mobile-friendly, failing on factors such as links being too close together and text that is too small. 

Google has produced guides to help website owners to optimise their sites using popular content management systems such as WordPress and Joomla. The company’s Webmaster Tools also delivers detailed information on mobile usability problems. 

Searches performed from desktop PCs or tablets will be unaffected by the changes to the Google algorithms. Yet, with mobiles now accounting for a greater share of web traffic than desktops, the impact could be hugely detrimental for those sites that fall foul of Google’s mobile test. 

Read more