Google Mobile Friendly Update Key Artwork

The Facts Behind Google’s Mobile-Friendly Update

By Imelda Khoo on Apr. 22, 2015

Content Technology

When Google pre-announced their "mobile-friendly" algorithm update on February 26, it caused widespread “mobilegeddon” panic, thanks in part to the broader-than-usual media coverage. In the months to follow, came plenty of speculation as to what the April update would mean for websites and the impact it would have on organic search engine results. But what exactly are the facts?

Fact: Mobile Use is Growing

Last year, ComScore reported that mobile usage overtook desktop in the US. E-Marketer expects the same to happen in the UK this year. It is clear that people are increasingly using search on their mobile devices, which is why Google is giving credit to sites that are easy to read and interact with on smaller screens, and pushing down sites that are not.

Fact: Only Mobile Searches are Affected by the Update

Google's mobile-friendly update only affects searches that are being made on mobile or tablet devices.

So, if your customers aren’t using mobile, then there's no problem. However, judging by mobile usage numbers, such cases are increasingly becoming few and far between. Make sure you are checking your analytics platform to understand how your visitors are viewing and interacting with your site. If your visits from mobile are low, is it because your users aren’t using mobile or because your site isn’t mobile-friendly?

Fact: As Simple as “Pass” or “Fail” 

Since the pre-announcement, Google has reported a 4.7% increase in sites that have gone “mobile-friendly”. By current Google standards, your website is either mobile friendly or it is not. You can test whether your site passes the mobile-friendly test here.

Sounds relatively straightforward, right? However, if Google's past track record is anything to go by, expect later algorithm iterations to be more demanding and the opinions of what makes a good mobile site more ambiguous.

Fact: Mobile-Friendly Isn’t the Only Factor Affecting Rank

With all the recent buzz around the mobile-friendly update, it can be easy to forget about all the other less shiny factors affecting rank. Being mobile-friendly is just one of over 200 different factors that Google’s algorithm takes into account when ranking sites in the search engine results. Let’s not forget about those. If you have a weak site with poor content, being mobile-friendly is not going to help you in the search engine results. 

In a complete brand-to-demand ecosystem, it’s important to remember that a focus on mobile is bigger than just a Google algorithm update. It’s about providing the best possible experience for people who are increasingly using mobile devices. Being present at the right time, in the right place and on the right device is what helps marketers win the moments that matter. For companies, this means that an integrated mobile presence is no longer a nice-to-have, but a requirement.

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