Reports running around the internet suggest that a recent Google update is demoting sites in its rankings that lack a responsive or mobile-friendly design. This has been a long time coming, and heavily hinted at by Google across all its search developments, press chatter and developer events. Thanks to the rapid rise of mobile traffic, Google’s warnings about sites becoming mobile-friendly should have been pretty obvious.
Frankly, any site developers or owners should have been well prepared for the change. Even if this is just a test by Google or a preview of what is it come, it represents a fair and final warning to anyone sticking to their desktop focused sites: they will start to vanish from the top of Google’s rankings pretty soon, if they don’t update.
The update appeared to be triggered at the end of January, with Google preferring sites that have a mobile design in their coding to those that don’t. Some sites reported losing their SEO ranking, but with no big changes announced by Google, they could be tinkering with the back end of Search and are testing the results before an official update.
Logically, Google would enforce the change on any mobile searches, so that a site or store would still appear in a desktop-initiated search but not in the same mobile equivalent. With sales of iPhones and Androids still on the rise, mobility remains the key issue for web and SEO design in the current climate, so should be top of your to-do list if any sites you work on have avoided the issue so far.
With Google focused on growth from mobile advertising, it will want to drive as much of the right traffic as possible to these devices and will refine its search engine results to that effect. Webmaster Tools has been identifying sites that were mobile-friendly since early 2014, so everyone should be aware of their situation. Certainly, it gives site designers and SEO marketers another stick to beat those mobile Luddites or laggards with, as this trend will only continue and as more business is done on mobile, they will continue to lose out.