Google testing bigger mobile-friendliness ranking boost?

There are some reports that Google is testing a larger ranking boost for mobile-friendly websites.

According to several SERP tracking tools, there has been a significant boost in the percentage of “mobile friendly” websites ranking on page one in Google Search on Tuesday. You can read more about the Mobile-Friendly Algorithm here, which was fully rolled out by the beginning of May last year.

The latest volatility was reported by AccuRanker’s Google Grump tracker and shows an apparent divergence between Mobile Rankings (which spiked) and Desktop Rankings (which remained static):

Mobile Rankings:

Mobile rankings Google Grump.
Mobile rankings Google Grump. © Accuranker.

Desktop Rankings:

Desktop Rankings Google Grump.
Desktop Rankings Google Grump. © Accuranker.

The data below is combined for all of AccuRanker’s global locations (US, Australian, UK and other European locations). We did test each of the locations separately, and all show similar movement.

Similarly, Dr. Pete Meyers at Moz also noticed significant changes on Tuesday:

This is not the first time massive changes have been spotted in the Mobile SERPs, with Dr. Pete seeing similar temporary fluctuations to 88.7 percent of mobile-friendly URLS on page one on the 5th February, which reverted on the 6th February to the previous level of 81 percent.

Google Switches Focus to Mobile Throughout 2016

Between mobile-friendliness rankings boosts and the new Accelerated Mobile Pages project, or AMP project, significant attention is being made to mobile usability and speed by Google throughout 2016. This is hardly a surprise with the ever increasing use of Mobile for carrying out web searches.

Just take the recent Super Bowl 50 as a prime example. During the 2015 Super Bowl, 70 percent of the TV-ad-driven searches were made via mobile. This year, that increased to a massive 82 percent, with a further 7 percent made on a table.

How the Big Game Played Out on the Second Screen – Think with Google.
How the Big Game Played Out on the Second Screen – Think with Google. © Screenshot.

The new AMP project will extend on Mobile-friendliness, by requiring participants to create new mobile versions of their website (initially for News pages) which are developed adhering to strict requirements. These slimmed down AMP pages will have to use the special AMP JavaScript library, include CSS in the head of the page rather than separate pages, and adhere to several other strict requirements. Fortunately, if you use WordPress, there is already an AMP Plugin that can do this for you.

The scope of this article does not include a detailed summary of AMP, but suffice to say, in return for producing these versions of the pages, you may get increased exposure in the Mobile SERPs. Also, your AMP page may be being cached around the World on Google’s servers directly to improve the speed at which your AMP page loads.

Furthermore, there are reports that Google has entered into an agreement with Level 3 Communications to increase significantly the capacity of its Network Infrastructure, presumably (although this is speculation on our part) to prepare for the rising network traffic AMP pages will cause.

Editor’s Note: Feb. 11, 2016 — Dr. Pete Meyers at Moz has been digging into the data, and it would appear that the volatility may have been caused by a sudden jump in deep-linking on Android:

We will update this article once we know more.

Jonathan Griffin. Editor @ The Webmaster

Editor, SEO Consultant, & Developer.

Jonathan Griffin is The Webmaster's Editor & CEO, managing day-to-day editorial operations across all our publications. Jonathan writes about Development, Hosting, and SEO topics for The Webmaster and The Search Review with more than nine years of experience. Jonathan also manages his own SEO consultancy, offering SEO developer services. He is an expert on site-structure, strategy, Schema, AMP, and technical SEO. You can find Jonathan on Twitter as @thewebmastercom.

Read more about Jonathan Griffin on our About Page.