Today, a significant amount of traffic to your site comes from people using mobile devices. In fact, 94% of people with smartphones in the United States search for local information on their phones.
While the majority of visits are still on desktop, smartphones are growing in importance and beginning to take over local search. Because of the increasing use of smartphones for search, Google is elevating the importance of having a responsive, mobile-friendly site.
Mobile websites are the key to having a strong online presence. A site that is not mobile-friendly is a hassle for mobile users because they are difficult to read and navigate. Have you ever visited a site on your phone where you have to manually zoom in on the item you want to click, then drag your finger around the screen in order to see everything? It is frustrating, and is a sign of a website that is not optimized for mobile devices.
Google first began making moves towards increasing the number of mobile-friendly websites in 2015, when it implemented the first set of algorithms that would lower the rank of websites not optimized for mobile devices. This included sites with faulty redirects and sites with content that could only be accessed on a desktop computer and sites that redirected users to a separate mobile site.
In April 2016, Google continued its push for mobile-friendly websites by updating the ranking system for search results. What does this mean, for your site? If your site is not mobile-friendly, Google will penalize you by with a lower ranking in its mobile search results.
It is still possible for sites that are not mobile-friendly to rank well if they are relevant and have high quality content, but the goal of this is to provide users with the most relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their mobile devices. Users want to be able to access information quickly and easily, and without the hassle of dealing with a poor viewing experience.
Wondering whether or not your site is mobile-friendly? Google has created a Mobile-Friendly Test so you can check your website.