Google to Start Penalizing Non-Mobile Sites

A New Algorithm Update Will ‘Significantly Impact’ Sites Without Mobile Compatibility

Rumors have been circulating for some time. The warning signs have been there, showing us the way. And, as of last week, the news is official: Google wants you to mobile-ize your website.

So much so, in fact, that the search engine giant will be updating its algorithm (again) to increase rankings for mobile-friendly sites. That’s right, Google announced last week that it plans to expand its use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal.

In plain English, this means that websites with mobile compatibility and mobile app connectivity will be awarded higher rankings in search results than those sites without.

In a somewhat unprecedented move, Google not only laid out the plans for its next algorithmic update but also assigned a specific date to the launch of the update.

According to the announcement on its Webmaster Central blog, Google said:

Starting April 21, 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. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.

Significant impact, huh?

What does that mean for you exactly? In short, if your website is not mobile-friendly, meaning your site is not responsive to different screen sizes, properly configured and able to be viewed on multiple device types, Google is making plans to penalize your search rankings. All the valuable SEO your site has currently could be for naught if your site isn’t viewable on a mobile device.

How Do You Know If Your Site Is Mobile Friendly?

Before you sound the alarms, you need to determine whether your site is at risk. To determine whether your website is currently being deemed “mobile friendly” by Google, there are two tests to run.

1. Check your site’s SERP appearances. You may have already begun noticing mobile-friendly tags populating certain search results within Google searches on mobile devices. If your site shows up there, your site is already mobile friendly and you don’t have anything to worry about.

2. Run your site through Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. Simply enter your URL into the grader. You can also check the Mobile Usability Report within your Google Webmaster Tools account for additional details on mobile compatibility issues across your site.

Make Plans for a Site Upgrade

If you do not pass the mobile test, you need to be making arrangements to update your website soon. While the exact repercussions may not be spelled out, the warning signs are there and should be taken seriously.

As Jay Taylor of Search Engine Watch points out, Google finds mobile so important that it has opted to provide a timeline for this update to encourage companies to make a transition–and relatively swiftly.

It seems the time is drawing nigh to go mobile or risk going dark.

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