Why Google Will Soon Penalize Websites That Are Not Mobile-Friendly

by Dustin J. Hall | 7 MIN READ
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If you've been considering a website redesign project to make your site more mobile-friendly, you better kick that project into in, right now.

Google announced that starting April 21st, 2015 it will be adding website mobile-friendliness among its stable of ranking signals. This is a pretty big change and will undoubtedly affect a lot of businesses - especially those who've neglected their websites (and users).

We'll cover why Google is making this algorithmic update, what it means for your search rankings and what you can do to avoid being penalized.

Why is Google doing this?

The biggest reason Google is adding mobile-friendliness to their ranking signals is simply because the online public demands it.

Demands it? What does that mean?

Above all else, Google's primary goal is to create a simple, fast and relevant experience for those using the search engine. And with a massive amount of people browsing the web on their mobile devices, Google decided it should cater to this growing trend and give people the experience they want - easy to read, mobile-friendly sites that accommodate their search behavior.

Want to see if your website is mobile-friendly?

Type your URL in Google's very own Mobile Friendly Test.


Google also made mention that it will display more relevant app content as well. More specifically, indexed apps.

This means if you have an app installed and you're signed into it, you may see search results for that particular content...again, because it's assumed to be more relevant to you.

What Does It Mean for Your Search Rankings?

This update means you've got to start focusing on user experience (UX) if you want to see any ranking results on Google. Mobile-friendly sites are now a big part of creating that wonderful experience, along with your content and overall digital marketing strategy.

It also means that if you've been investing in SEO services or content marketing for your website without investing in a mobile-friendly design, your money will soon be wasted.

Google's mobile-friendly update will act as an anchor on the ship of your old web design...hey, it was sinking anyway.

The cold hard truth is, aside from SEO, those still rocking outdated, non-mobile-friendly sites have been experiencing higher bounce rates, unhappy visitors and a loss in business opportunity anyway.

How You Can Avoid Getting Penalized...

google-mobile-friendlyRedesign your website for mobile.

That's it.

The question then becomes: Do you engage in mobile website templates or responsive web design? If you're new to web design, they are two very different things.

Mobile Website Templates
Mobile templates are essentially separate websites, built specifically for each mobile device type. This means that if you want to build a mobile-friendly site using mobile templates, you'll have to craft a new website on a separate sub domain for each type of device you anticipate your visitors will use.

If this sounds like a pain in the butt, that's because it is.

Responsive Design
Your other option is a responsive web design.

This simplified approach to design means your website stays as one URL yet will be responsive to any device type. The advantages here are numerous...

  • Better for SEO
  • Easier to update as it's centralized
  • Adapts to any device (and future devices)
  • Less expensive

Where to Go from Here...

If you didn't take Google's website test above, do that now to ensure your site is mobile-friendly. It's very quick.

If your site checks out, kudos! You're on the right path to creating wonderful experiences for your visitors and avoiding Google's upcoming algorithm changes.

Related: How to Optimize Images for Web Use


Originally published March 2, 2015. Updated November 29, 2017.