Will Google’s next algorithm target mobile web design?

Can we anticipate Google’s next algorithm?

UPDATE - Since we wrote this article in January Google have announced that "Starting April 21 (2015), 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."

There has been a huge increase in the use of mobile devices for internet use, such as smartphones and tablets. This has had a knock-on effect on the need for responsive websites, which recognise whether they are being visited from a mobile device, laptop or PC and adapt the viewing screen accordingly. More information is available about this on our responsive web design for mobile phones page.

Up until now, the only effect of not having a responsive website that encourages easy mobile usability has probably been that potential customers have moved to a site which recognises whether the user requires touch screen scrolling, (for mobile devices), or large screen displays with drop-down menus (for a PC), for example. There have, however, recently been some hints that the whole topic of responsiveness for mobile devices could be the subject of the next scrutiny by a Google algorithm, which could have a significant effect on the page-rankings of websites that have not adapted to modern usage.

What leads to this suspicion?

  • Thousands of webmasters have received notifications from Google in the past few weeks, warning them that their websites are not user-friendly for mobile use, with serious consequences for search engine rankings, reflecting mobile usability.
  • Google have disclosed that they have been evolving a new mobile ranking algorithm over the past couple of months.
  • There have been a number of additions to the Google Webmaster Tools, such as a mobile-friendly testing tool and mobile usability reports. Simply enter the URL of your website to find how it is rated, together with the reasons for it not being mobile friendly, an image of how the page appears on a mobile device and a range of options for improving the mobile friendliness, depending on how the site was developed in the first place.
  • Another recent addition is a “mobile-friendly” label for Google search results, which indicates at a glance whether or not a mobile user will be able to navigate a site with ease on a smartphone or tablet.
  • Google is also giving hints and suggestions about how to correct and modify websites which do not have responsive capability to adapt for mobile devices.

Could the next algorithm be Google Ostrich?

The indications are all there that Google will introduce a new algorithm very soon.

As many webmasters will testify, we ignore Google’s activities at our peril! Ignoring the modern phenomenon of ever-increasing internet use from mobile devices when designing and developing a website is akin to burying one’s head in the sand – a well-known habit of the ostrich, which seems to think that if it can’t see danger, the danger does not exist. It could be that Google continues with the wildlife theme of its algorithm names and will launch the next one as Google Ostrich.

Don’t bury your head in the sand, with the potential for being penalized by “Google Ostrich” (or whatever the new algorithm will be called. Take advantage of any help that is available to assess both how your current website stacks up to being user-friendly for mobile users and what needs to be done to improve matters. Please contact Indigoextra at any time if you feel we can be of assistance in this vitally important website development.