In an unprecedented announcement about an upcoming mobile algorithm update, Google informed us a few weeks ago on their Webmaster Central blog that:
Starting April 21, 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. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.
This morning, Google’s Zineb Ait Bahajji is quoted as saying at SMX Munich that the upcoming mobile-friendly algorithm will impact more sites than their Panda or Penguin algorithms.
If you rely on traffic from mobile you are advised to check how your site is performing. This can be done in two different ways:
1) Check Google Webmaster Tools as described in my Is your website mobile-friendly? blog post
2) Do a quick mobile-friendly test
If either of these bring up issues, you will need to speak to your web agency.
If you’re on WordPress it may be as simple as upgrading your theme to a mobile responsive one that works on all devices.
If you decide to create a separate mobile site make sure that where the content is the same, you use the canonical tag on the mobile pages to point to the desktop URL. This avoids duplicate content issues.
Even though this algorithm update will not affect desktop search, given that up to 50% of Google’s searches take place on a mobile, you can’t afford not to address this.