Late last year, I noticed something interesting while using Google Search on my phone. Google had started noting whether a site was mobile-friendly alongside the search results themselves.
This feature, as it turns out, rolled out in November 2014, as a way to help mobile users avoid frustration by going to desktop only sites on their mobile devices. At the time, I thought it was a useful curiosity, but nothing more. I have found over time, though, that I have started looking for these markers, and actively avoiding non-mobile sites that turn up in Google search results.
Anecdotally, this doesn’t really mean much, but things are changing in a potentially huge way. Starting April 21, Google has started using this information to rank searches. So if you are searching from a mobile device, the search results may rank mobile-friendly sites higher than non-mobile-friendly sites.
What does this mean?
The implications could potentially be large. As we’ve noted before, the mobile audience is large and growing, closing in on 30% of all web traffic today. Some estimates put IR website traffic as nearly 50% mobile. Companies that rely, in part, on Google for discovery or to reach shareholders should ensure that their websites are mobile-friendly, so they don’t potentially alienate more than 1/5th of their traffic.
How do I know if this applies to me?
It is critical for companies to review their Google Analytics results on a regular basis – we suggest quarterly, at a minimum. From there, you can see mobile traffic as a percentage of total traffic, and changes over time, or around specific news releases. Companies that have a decent amount of traffic coming from mobile devices should definitely consider making the site mobile-friendly as soon as possible, to prevent losing that traffic.