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Google Introducing ‘Mobile Friendly’ Tags in Search Results and Signal It Will Start Impacting Search Rankings

Posted By Darren Rowse 22nd of November 2014 Search Engine Optimization 0 Comments

Over the last couple of years any blogger who has paid attention to their analytics will know that how people are reading blogs is changing.

No longer are people simply arriving on your blog on their desktop computer or laptop but on tablets, mobile phones and more.

Today I took a look at the change in how people arrive on my blog (Digital Photography School) over last 3 years.

I doubt the results will surprise anyone.

dPS Mobile Desktop Trafic

The growth in mobile/tablet traffic has been remarkable.

When I look at the last period in the chart in more detail and look at just this month (November) the trend continues

dPS Mobile Desktop Trafic 2

Another month or two and we’ll be hitting a 50/50 split of those on desktops and those on mobile devices.

Every blogger I speak with tells me a similar story. While the breakdown might vary a little the day is coming (if it hasn’t already) where most bloggers will have more readers consuming content on mobile devices than desktop.

Google Launch Mobile Friendly Tags and Testing Tool

Google have been encouraging those with websites to make them mobile friendly for a year or more now but in the last week Google made an interesting announcement that is aimed at twisting the arm of those with sites even more.

They announced that they’ll be rolling out ‘tags’ in search results that mark sites as ‘mobile-friendly’. In the coming weeks when you search Google you’ll start seeing this next to those sites Googlebot considers to be fit for mobile consumption.


What makes a mobile friendly site in Googlebot’s eyes? What it is looking for is sites that:

  • Avoids software that is not common on mobile devices, like Flash
  • Uses text that is readable without zooming
  • Sizes content to the screen so users don’t have to scroll horizontally or zoom
  • Places links far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily tapped

Google also made available an easy to use ‘test’ that enables us to add our URL and test if our blog fits the criteria.

Simply plug in your URL and it’ll analyse your site and give you a tick of approval or a cross with suggestions on how to fix any problems

Google to Start using Mobile-Friendly Criteria in Ranking Sites

Also of interest in Google’s announcement this week is this line:

We are also experimenting with using the mobile-friendly criteria as a ranking signal.

Take note: Google are officially letting us know that if your site isn’t mobile friendly that it could hurt how your site is ranked in Google.

Note: last year we completely redesigned Digital Photography School with a mobile friendly responsive design.

We’ve also gradually been rolling out responsive designs on ProBlogger.com, ProBloggerEvents.com and in the coming month hope to finish overhauling the ProBlogger suite of sites by making ProBlogger.net and our Job boards similarly design. It’s a big job but well worth the effort!

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. With smartphone like Samsung Note 4 and iPhone 6 are getting bigger and bigger, people nowadays love to read their favorite blog just on their phone.

    They also like to search info directly on their smartphone/phablet. No more laptops or PC.

    • I’m surprised at how quickly I took to reading blogs (and just about everything else on the Web) using mobile devices. At first I expected I wouldn’t take to a tablet — but no, I love using my tablet!

  2. Hey Darren,

    Great write up. I noticed this just the other day. “Huh… this is new,” I thought to myself. Of course, I haven’t thought about it since. Until this post anyway. :-)

    I’ve been beating the “make your site mobile-friendly” drum, too, despite the fact my own blog readers haven’t shifted to mobile devices just yet. “Desktop” has been holding strong at 65-68% the last six months.

    With so many free WordPress themes which are mobile responsive (not to mention the great premium themes you can buy), there’s no excuse having your blog neglect our mobile brethren!

    Great post, Darren. I’ll be Tweeting it shortly.

    Hope you have a great day.


  3. I must add that more than 50% of my site’s traffic is by mobile phone users. So, yes, mobile is the way people browse these days.

  4. Oh, and just checked. Google already marks my pages as mobile friendly. :-)

  5. Well this makes me even more glad we just changed our theme to a mobile responsive one earlier this week.

    We’re already seeing some benefits – not with SEO yet, a bit too early to determine that, but with conversions. We’re getting slightly higher pages per session and slightly lower bounce rate – though that may just be the general flux of traffic. Will see how it pans out.

    Either way, I’m sure the transition to mobile friendly will pay off in the long run.

  6. Though Mobile friendly website is a must these days, I don’t think it is going to affect rankings, what it can do is, increase CTR in search results.

  7. I think my blog is responsive.

    By the way, where I can access the tool for checking whether my site is mobile friendly or not?


  8. Nowadays mobile users are increasing, this creates a greater impact on search ranking on mobile. Google also introduces search tags to get search friendly and better. Surely this will make a greater growth in coming days.

  9. Hello Darren,

    Mobile users are increasing rapidly & may dominate desktops in the future.

    But I feel the trends varies for every industry & also the country. Blogs will mostly receive a high percentage of mobile users, where as Service Company Websites will have desktop traffic on a higher percentage.


  10. Hi Darren
    I am actually surprised by the growth of mobile users. From your data it seems that mobile and tablet use is accounting for near 50% of all usage. And all that took place in a couple of years.

    That effectively means that you must a responsive site design. A lot of webmasters may be prompted to change their design, if they haven’t done already. Good that you came up with this post.

    Neil (Blogician.com)

  11. Nowadays it is very important to have a responsive site to improve the experience of the User.

  12. Kinda knew this day was coming … time to shape up my blogs so that phones and tablets display my content properly (my social sliding buttons have shown up on my mobile version of my sites rather awkwardly in the past, but I haven’t done anything about it yet!)

  13. Hi Darren,

    I admit it. I have gone mobile. How embarrassing :) Nope, I resisted tech stuff for many moons but now I read blogs on my tablet. Blog commenting? Hell, that’s another story. I have not the patience or digital dexterity to type comments on a tablet. So I do the laptop thing.

    I do know that more of my readers are going mobile. As are most blog readers.

    It’s as simple as ever to know if your site makes the mobile cut. Use the strategy provided up top or message a friend who has a mobile device. They’ll check your blog on their phone or tablet, and will let you know pronto whether your blog looks great or garish on mobile.

    I do spot checks of my blog on my Android tablet here and there. So far, so good, but I always love to hear feedback and will probably laugh and agree with the negative stuff more than the positive. Mainly, because I’m a bit out there…not because I’m blogging from Bali either ;)

    Thanks Darren. Super helpful reminder for old skool folks who have resisted the mobile wave. It’s building folks. Hop on board or get swept away by a monstrous mass of tablets and phones!


  14. to increase user experience i feel it is very important to have a responsive website as different display size are increasing day by day

  15. Nowadays mobile users are increasing, this creates a greater impact on search ranking on mobile. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful article here.

  16. Build a separate mobile site because Good mobile user experience requires a different design When people access sites using mobile devices, their measured usability is much higher for mobile sites than for full sites.

  17. Thanks for the update
    another great tool by Google

  18. Thanks for the heads up Darren!

    A few weeks ago a subscriber to my site mentioned that he noticed some messages in Webmaster tools about his site not being mobile friendly.

    That was my first clue that Google seemed to be paying closer attention, this just takes it that much further and better explains the messages he was seeing.

    It is definitely time for folks to switch to a more mobile responsive theme, or try some of the plugins that can make your site more mobile friendly.

  19. Hey this is great news. We’ve been recommending our clients get a responsive website for a few years but some still prefer to bury their head in the sand and hope it all goes away. I think this will push them to take care of it :) Google can be a bit of a bully but in this case for a good reason :)

  20. Google is forever changing up. That’s why it pays to keep creating unique content at full strength and keep doing the transformation work as a webpreneur, because whether you’re striving to get your business off of the ground and tap into the mobile markets out of inspiration or desperation, you just gotta keep going no matter what.

  21. Now, user friendly site is mobile friendly site because about 40% of traffic comes from mobile. Google is definitely keeping eye on increasing traffic from mobile and will make some more changes in future.

  22. I must say that I also enjoy browsing blogs from my phone in those moments when you just have nothing better to do, like if you are waiting in a long queue or sitting in the doctor’s office waiting for your appointment. Reading blogs at this time makes a little better use of my time and keeps me occupied. What however is annoying is if the site is not mobile friendly, because my browser keeps closing on me. So yes, this trend with smartphones being the norm of the day, does not surprise me.
    What does surprise me is that it will affect my SEO. I did not know that.
    If you have a hosted wordpress.com site you can make your site mobile friendly simply by enabling this feature from your dashboard. I just did this, did not even take 5 minutes.
    Thank you for reminding us of this vital info.

  23. i never really understand the mobile friendly thing but now I do. Thanks for shedding more light.

  24. Thanks for the heads up! This is really important info!

  25. Interesting, I know I visit most sites on my mobile and there’s nothing more annoying then when it’s not responsive

  26. Yes I’ve noticed lately in google searches there seems to be an emphasis on highlighting sites that are mobile friendly. I agree it’s going to eventually impact on a websites pagerank.

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