Google rarely states specifically what is a ranking factor for their algorithm, so when they do, we definitely listen.
Google announced that on April 21st, 2015, they will be making a change to how they rank websites for mobile users. They have also gone on record to say this is going to be their biggest update to date, meaning this will have a bigger affect on websites than their previous Panda and Penguin algorithm updates.
The Mobile-Friendly algorithm update will basically put any page that is not Mobile-Friendly according to their specific requirements beneath websites that are, when users are searching via a mobile browser. Pretend you are the best result and are currently ranking #1 for [plastic surgeon los angeles], but after April 21st, if your page that normally was #1 is not mobile-friendly, than your page will be placed beneath all other results that are mobile-friendly.
This is Google forcing anyone that cares about receiving traffic to their site from Google, to make their website mobile-friendly. This is not necessarily a bad thing though. You have been to a website before from your cell phone that is not optimized for mobile phones and it is a pain in the butt to navigate, pinching and zooming, trying to read the info you are after, or worse being redirected to some other page that is not at all what you clicked.
You can test your own site to see if it is mobile optimized.
Click on this link, Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.
Enter your website’s URL and click the button Analyze, if your site is, it will display a message, “Awesome! This page is mobile-friendly.”.
Now here is where it gets a tiny bit tricky.
Some companies create a pseudo mobile site for you. What that means is, they redirect all of your pages to a mobile site, but they do not provide the exact same content that would be visible on the URL that desktop users see.
For example, if a user goes to our Search Engine Optimization page via a desktop page, and then a mobile users goes to that exact same URL, do they get the same content of the SEO page, or do they get redirected to the index of a mobile site?
The tool Google created, doesn’t tell you this. You can check that yourself by entering a sub-page of your website into your smart phone’s web browser and see if that same content appears but optimized for mobile, or you can do another test:
Go to your mobile browser on your smart phone and go to Google.com, then enter [site:yourdomain.com] or for example [site:growthmed.com] (without the brackets).
You will notice under the URL for each page a grey Mobile-Friendly tag. That means Google sees that page as Mobile-Friendly and if all your pages that they have in the index show that you are golden.
In a recent interview, Gary Illyes, Webmaster Trends Analyst working at Google, said that this algorithm affects websites on a page-by-page basis and runs in real-time.
Page-by-page basis meaning, that it only affects each page that is not Mobile-Friendly, so if your main pages are optimized for mobile, then only the pages that are not, like your blog archives for example, will be affected if they are not optimized. So if a couple of your pages are not Mobile-Friendly, your entire site will not be negatively impacted by this algorithm change.
Also, since this algorithm runs in real-time, if your page is not mobile optimized and then you fix it so it is Mobile-Friendly now, the next time Google’s spiders crawl that page and see that it is Mobile-Friendly, it will take immediate affect and you will then benefit from this algorithm change.
If your site is not fully mobile optimized, if you are currently working with a web agency, please contact them about doing this for you.
At the same time, if they have not alerted you to this problem, I would consult a trust worthy agency that can also check out what other things have not been attended to, or just neglected, possibly from not being aware of changes in the ecosystem.
If you would like a full website audit, we are always here to help you and your agency navigate through all the changes that have been occurring lately, feel free to contact us for advice.