Google ups the stakes on mobile-friendliness

Google updated its algorithms today to take into account a sites mobile-friendliness. What this actually means is that sites that fail googles mobile-friendliness tests will appear less in search results and may not appear at all on searches initiated from mobile devices. We have learnt however that this change does not affect tablets or iPads.

You could be forgiven into thinking that a company with arguably the biggest billboard in history and the ability to take you on a virtual walk through around the globe would have tried a little harder to communicate what this means to small business’ whose websites are not mobile friendly.

Nasir Ahmed

Whereas we love the way that Google can accelerate changes across the internet – we’re not so happy as to how Google has managed this change. It’s just another reminder of how colossal Google has become.

“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,” Googlers Takaki Makino, Chaesang Jung and Doantam Phan said in a blog post announcing the change back in February.

Companies ill prepared for one of the biggest changes in Google’s search algorithm for three years can lose valuable ground in the ever changing impact that Google’s search can have on a business success or failure. For the user the changes can ultimately demote important legitimate websites that you may no longer have access to.

Newer websites benefit from being built responsively or adaptively and this change just goes to show how investing in the right technologies at the right time pays dividends. However larger more complex websites built over many years find it much more difficult to respond so quickly.

At GURUS our mantra has always been to separate the business logic from the presentation layer but even then we find some of our customers have had to make tough decisions and think long and hard about either updating their website to be mobile friendly or creating a new device specific site to deal with mobile devices.

There’s no right answer – and you have to consider the financial costs as well as the business impact and loss of valuable SEO rankings in the interim.

The update does however improve the user experience by eliminating websites from the search that do not render well on the initiating device – so in this way google is “pushing” its vision of how the web should be and its hard not to agree with it.

With over 50%  of searches now happening on mobile devices – maybe its a wake up call that you can’t rest on your laurels in a digital world.