Mobile optimisation: What do Google’s warnings mean for brands?

google+ : users are spent less than seven minutes on Google's social network in marchBrands that have invested in mobile and responsive websites are likely to reap the benefits as Google moves towards a better mobile user experience.

But Google recently sent a warning out to webmasters whose sites have issues on mobile devices.

Launching on Webmaster Tools, the warning highlights how many pages have ‘critical mobile usability errors’ i.e. which pages may not display correctly on a mobile device.

The warning states that “these pages will not be seen as mobile-friendly by Google Search, and will therefore be displayed and ranked appropriately for smartphone users.”

Essentially, Google is warning that non-mobile friendly sites will rank lower for mobile users.

Google has already announced experimental mobile-friendly criteria as a ranking signal, and this update could serve as a warning before the launch of a new mobile algorithm that favours mobile-optimised sites in its search results.

Although we are yet to see a significant change in mobile search rankings, sites receiving these warnings are at risk of losing mobile search visibility.

IMRG and Capgemini recently found that 37% of online sales this Christmas came via smartphones and tablet devices, a 55% increase from the previous year.

With mobile traffic rising across every sector, this update from Google will have a direct impact on traffic and sales and it’s important for brands to audit their mobile performance accordingly.


These warnings are not to be taken lightly. This is another example of Google rewarding brands who are investing in their user experience and who are geared up for the multi-screen and multi device world.

We’re likely to see an increase of algorithmic changes from Google to reward sites that work natively across a multitude of devices – from PC, to tablet, to smartphone – and potentially penalise those that don’t.

We recommend checking your site using tools like Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test Tool to identify any issues that will negatively affect mobile rankings.

Drew Brigham, technical director at Epiphany

  • Donee Damore

    Data supports more users are searching via mobile devices, therefore, marketers have to understand how their sites are ranking and confirm they are mobile optimized.

  • Curtis B.

    Ignore this algorithmic change at your own (or your clients) peril.