The SEO Game Is Changing
Traditionally, Google has indexed the desktop version of each website and produced search results to its users based mainly on the information contained on the website and/or page. In the past, if the website and/or page had good quality information that the searcher was looking for, it would be ranked according to Google’s algorithm and come up in results for internet browsers to click on.
Google have announced that they are taking this one step further and changing their method of producing search results to favor websites that are now “mobile friendly”.
What does this mean?
Essentially, Google want to give their customers (anyone who uses Google to search for websites) what they want and they have discovered that while 51% of internet browsing is done via mobile devices, a whopping 60%+ of internet searches are done via a mobile device.
To continue to give their customers what they want, Google need to give a higher search rank to websites that are “mobile friendly” because the majority of Googles customers (and therefore your customers) are looking for mobile friendly websites.
Google have stated that:
We continue to have one single index that we use for serving search results. We do not have a “mobile-first index” that’s separate from our main index.
Which means that they don’t separate search results based on mobile and desktop versions of websites, as many people assumed they do.
What Does This Look Like?
GOOGLE SEARCH >>> Crawl Mobile Version of Website >>> Determines Ranking for Mobile AND Desktop
>>> No Mobile Version> >>> Crawl Desktop Version >>> Determine Rank
Essentially, Google looks for the mobile version of your website first and will rank based on it’s previous methods (more or less). However, if no mobile friendly version of your website is found, Google will crawl the desktop version and then determine the rank, taking into consideration the fact that your site is not in the format that Googles customers (anyone who searches via Google) is after.
The desktop only version will get a lower rank.
With this confirmation, Google are saying that both the desktop only, and mobile friendly, websites are competing for the same space in search results, but now Google will begin to give a higher priority to websites that are mobile friendly.
To put it another way:
You could take 2 similar websites in any industry, one being mobile friendly (rank #300), and one not (rank #290).
If these 2 websites were currently ranked next to each other in search results, it is entirely plausible that the mobile friendly website could leap-frog the desktop site and move up the google ranks (for example from #300 to #199). While at the same time, the desktop only version could, in theory, drop significantly in rank to make way for lower ranked websites that are mobile friendly.
In theory, this is an opportunity for lesser known websites to gain a much higher ranking and gain more traffic, simply because they are already mobile friendly.
However, it is also conceivable that websites that are not optimized for mobiles could drop off anyone’s radar due to a loss in search ranking.