Some months ago we discussed the importance of having a mobile responsive website because it's estimated that around 40% of your potential visitors now connect via smartphones and tablets.
At that time we speculated on whether Google would be adjusting it's search and indexing criteria to highlight those sites that conform to this latest technology. Google wants to deliver the best results to it's users when they do a search, so they have now put new measures into place to identify the mobile and non-mobile compatible sites on their search results.
On September 30, Google began testing new mobile-friendly icons. When a user performed a search on a mobile device, a small green mobile-friendly icon would appear on sites that were mobile-friendly.
Then on October 13, they changed their methodology by displaying non-mobile-friendly icons which were grey cell phones with lines through them indicating incompatibility.
On October 14, there was yet another change in methodology. This time, sites that appeared in search results on mobile devices that were deemed mobile-friendly were accompanied by the words “Mobile-friendly” in grey.
We're now at the stage where the user is easily able to identify whether a site is mobile friendly or not. Obviously they still have the choice as to whether they want to continue or not......however, they may not have that choice much longer!
Because continuing along the theme of Google wanting to deliver the best search results to users, it's now a distinct possibility that sites that are not mobile responsive will end up being displayed much lower in the search results. Google wants to show a list of the best options that people can visit.....not a list of options that they can't. So the feeling in the industry is that this is just a matter of time.
Google has made no secret over it's push towards mobile computing over the last year, but they never tell people exactly what they intend to do to implement these measures. It's just a matter of wait and see how far they will take it. Unfortunately, the "wait and see" option could well mean that non-mobile responsive sites will disappear from the main Google search results until such time as they comply with Google's vision of how the internet should be.
In only a few months they've moved from highlighting mobile compatibility to potentially punishing non-mobile compatibility. How far will it go? With Google profits soaring with their Android operating system on smartphones, tablets, and ChromeBooks, this seems to be just the start!
This is a very different Internet compared to only a few years ago, and irrespective of whether we like it or not, Google are in the driving seat! Just make sure that you're not left "outside looking in".