At the end of February, Google posted the Finding More Mobile-Friendly Search Results announcement on their Webmaster Central Blog. While the search engine has always made mobile-readiness and easy access of information a priority, it will use mobile-friendliness as a stronger ranking signal than ever before. Google’s goal is to reward websites that are mobile friendly by giving them a “boost.”
How will this update affect your website, and what should you know?
This is not a penalty for sites that are not mobile-friendly, but more of a “boost” for those that are:
If www.domain.com has a great mobile experience and the competition (within the Search Engine Results Page) for specific keyphrases does not, then www.domain.com would receive a boost above the others.
If www.domain.com does not have a great mobile experience and competitors for specific keyphrases do, then they could receive that boost instead, which would push www.domain.com lower on the page.
If neither www.domain.com nor the competition have a mobile friendly experience for a search query, there may be no fluctuations in how the website pages are ranked in the Search Engine Results Page.
This is one of various ranking signals and it affects mobile rankings only.
It is page and query specific:
If www.domain.com has a section of their website optimized for mobile (think of the mini-mobile websites that were the best practice 4 years ago) those pages could potentially get a boost, where the non-mobile pages on that site would not.
If www.domain.com’s SERP competitors for “keyword 1” return mobile friendly pages and www.domain.com is not mobile friendly, the competition will get a boost for “keyword 1” and www.domain.com will not. However, if no-one has a mobile optimized page for “keyword 2”, then there may not be any position fluctuations on that phrase since no one is getting the boost.
It will also increase the presence of relevant app content in the search results.
Impact will depend on the search query, your SERP competition and the mobile friendliness of each page. If you are not sure how Google views your website, try their mobile-friendliness tool to analyze your website.