Google: Mobile-Friendly Ranking Signal to Increase in May 2016

Mar 29, 2016
3 min read
Google Algorithm Update

In a recent announcement, Google has confirmed that beginning in May 2016 they will increase the effect of the mobile-friendliness ranking signal.

In the announcement Klemen Kloboves, Software Engineer at Google, made the following points:

  • If you have already made your website mobile-friendly, this update will not affect you.
  • The intent of the search is still a strong signal, so even if your website is not mobile-friendly, you may still rank well if your content is high quality and relevant.
  • You can use the Mobile-Friendly Test and the Webmaster Mobile Guide to help diagnose and improve your mobile website.

The new update is scheduled to start rolling out in May 2016 but may take some time to be fully implemented. The mobile-friendliness test is absolute, so your website either qualifies as mobile-friendly, or it doesn’t. There are no gray areas or sliding scale to the ranking signal. This makes it very easy to implement, as you will have an explicit confirmation from Google that your website qualifies for the ranking boost.

To test whether your website is mobile-friendly, you can use Google’s mobile testing tool. You can enter your website URL, and it will report back whether it passes, or indicate any failures. You can see a screenshot of the testing tool below:

Google's mobile testing tool.

The only problem with the mobile testing tool is that it only allows you to check one page at a time. Fortunately, in the Search Console, you can access your Mobile Usability Report. Over time this will provide an in-depth report on all pages on your website, allowing you to address any errors that may only affect specific pages. Examples of such errors include the following:

An example report can be seen below:

Google's mobile usability report.

When the new Mobile Algorithm was first announced, there were widespread fears of a Mobilegeddon. This turned out not to be the case. By the time the algorithm was fully rolled out on the 1st of May 2015, it was clear that many webmasters implemented a mobile version of their website (whether separate or responsive), which limited its impact.

We suspect the new update will not have a significant effect on the SERPs, and this view was broadly reiterated by Gary Illyes on Google+, " was there anything catastrophic about the first mobile-friendly update? If not, then I’d prefer ditching that name. “.

If you haven’t already, you should make your website mobile-friendly. For the rest of you, you can ignore this Google Update.