Is a Mobile Friendly Website a Search Engine Ranking Factor?

Simple question. Simple answer. Yes!

Beginning April 21, 2015, websites that are mobile-friendly will be recognized as such by Google, a potential boost to rankings for numerous sites. Google has been notating mobile-friendly sites in search results since November 2014, and this announcement makes mobile-friendliness more important than ever before.

mobile friendly google search resultsMore than 60% of smartphone users use their devices to access the internet. But not all sites are mobile-friendly. It’s a common frustration to tap a Google Search result on your phone and find a page filled with tiny text, images, and links because the website hasn’t been optimized for mobile viewing. Google aims to reduce or eliminate that frustration by rewarding sites that are mobile-friendly, a potential boost to site ranking.

What Does “Mobile Friendly” Mean?

Google has established the criteria for a page to earn the “mobile-friendly” label:

  • 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 (aka Responsive Website Design)
  • Places links far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily touched (to visit the link)

Testing for Mobile-Friendliness

If your site is mobile-friendly, you don’t have to do anything. However, if your site isn’t mobile-friendly, there are some specific things you can do to make it so. To help you out, Google provides a mobile-friendly site testing tool. If your site doesn’t pass Google’s test, the tool will give you a list of things you can do to improve your site and make it more mobile-friendly.

Mobile Apps to Rank Better in Mobile Search Too

In addition to this new set of ranking factors, Google has also announced that it will award better ranking to apps that are indexed by Google through App Indexing. While this only affects Android apps, this feature will only work for signed-in users who have the app installed on their phone. Pages from your website will connect with specific content within your app, allowing users to open the app directly from search results.

If you have an app that would benefit from being indexed by Google, you can follow the instructions here.

Improving the Mobile Search Experience

Google is constantly and consistently improving the search experience to the benefit of the user, but in order for your site or app to benefit, you need to meet Google’s established criteria. Google’s algorithm for search results is in some ways a mystery, and ever changing, but when they make a specific announcement to spell out some of the steps you must take to improve ranking, you will want to pay attention.

Bottom line – if your website isn’t mobile friendly, you’ll need to make it so to improve your user experience and your search engine ranking. If you’re unsure what to do, let us help.