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Whenever Google announces an update to their ever-secret search algorithm, the news is received with a mix of anticipation and caution.

As of April 21st, site owners will have extra reason to be prudent, as the forthcoming update will expand on Google’s use of a given site’s mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal.

Google’s search component had already begun moving in this direction circa November last year, when they began noting which sites were mobile-friendly in searches carried out on a mobile device.

An example using a search carried out for the Domain Grabber app is below.

mobile-friendlyAs per the criteria laid out in the Official Google Webmaster Blog, a page is eligible for the “mobile-friendly” label if it:

Avoids software that is not common on mobile devices, like Flash

Uses text that is readable without zooming

Sizes content to the screen so users don’t have to scroll horizontally or zoom

Places links far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily tapped

The forthcoming change to the algorithm takes this a step further – with the “mobile-friendly” notation in place, search results on mobile devices will rank these higher compared to sites that aren’t mobile-responsive. What is also important to note that these changes aren’t a gradual rollout, as per previous updates to Google search like Panda or Penguin – pages will be ranked accordingly on their mobile-friendliness, page by page, and in real time. However, if a site that isn’t currently mobile-responsive is made so – and Google is told so – Google will recognise the page as mobile-friendly when next indexed.

Image Direct ensures that its sites are mobile-friendly from the very beginning. Rather than develop a separate mobile site (as has been the case with web developers until recently), the one website we build responds to the device it’s being viewed on, be it smartphone or tablet. This gif created by San Francisco company Froont (courtesy of Fast Company Design) helpfully demonstrates what we mean, and what Google is aiming to highlight.

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Suffice it to say, if your website isn’t mobile-friendly, the impending updates to Google search could well mean a loss in traffic and business if Google opts to downrank your site. As the trend in mobile shopping shows no signs of decreasing, taking that step into a mobile-friendly future could well be worth your time and investment.

Make Me Mobile-Friendly!

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