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The Google mobile-friendly algorithm update

You may have read this week on the BBC, the Wall Street Journal or watched the coverage on Channel 4 News that Google are updating their algorithm so that websites which are "mobile-friendly" will appear higher in search results than websites that aren't. We wanted to give our view on the update and on how it could affect your website.

As a company we have been supporters of responsive websites for sometime, we always advise our clients to go down the path of building a responsive website. A responsive website’s layout will “respond” in size according to the size of the device you are using, from a smart phone with a three inch wide screen to a 27 inch iMac and everything inbetween.

Earlier this week our esteemed colleagues at Mediaworks wrote about the algorithm update and the detail is interesting. Specifically: “The update will not have any effect on tablet or desktop searches.” i.e. If a user isn’t using a mobile device, then their site isn’t affected.

In context, the update makes perfect sense. If your site performs badly or doesn’t work so well on a mobile device, then Google will effectively punish youIf Google doesn’t punish sites which don’t give a user the experience they want then trust in Google will decline, its as much about Google looking after itself as it is about any effort to change the landscape of web development.

How will I know if my website is affected?

The easy way to know if your website will be unaffected is to search for your website on Google and on a mobile device. If just under the top link for your website you can see the words ‘mobile-friendly’ then you’re ok. See the image below.

There is a longer, more detailed discussion to have when the effects actually take place and start to bed in.

Personally I’ll be keeping an eye on For the uninitiated its basically the go to for any news or updates regarding Newcastle United (my team), the official site is pretty useless for anything other than buying tickets.

The thing is, hasn’t changed its look or feel in….. literally decades. It uses a table based layout, and whilst the experience on a mobile phone isn’t exactly terrible, there is significant room for improvement on a mobile device.

That said, I keep returning because its content is first rate, it updates at least once every day, more often when required and keeps adverts to a acceptable minimum. So I wonder how much they will be punished, if at all.