Because more and more people are accessing websites via their cell phones, factoring mobile compatibility into site design in 2016 is absolutely critical. Mobile apps allow not only for communications and transactions with customers, but for access to device functionality such as the use of location context (GPS), the phone’s camera and sound. And while they still represent just a small share of consumer interactions with brands, that share is growing rapidly: 48% of customer interactions in 2015 occurred over mobile apps for social channels including Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
Google’s new mobile-friendly algorithm update should "increase the effect" of mobile-friendly pages being ranked a touch higher than sites that are built exclusively for desktop. The first such algorithm dedicated to mobile was introduced in April of last year, and an announcement the following March let users know that upcoming updates to mobile search results would "increase the effect of the ranking signal to help our users find even more pages that are relevant and mobile-friendly."
Sites that are already mobile-friendly are not impacted by the update, and even those that are not optimized for mobile still retain a chance of ranking reasonably high. "The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal - so even if a page with high quality content is not mobile-friendly, it could still rank well if it has great, relevant content."
The update was fully rolled out on May 12, as confirmed by Google’s John Mueller on Twitter.
Small or startup businesses and entrepreneurs who find the concept of building a mobile strategy daunting can create a roadmap to becoming mobile-friendly by focusing on key areas and testing web pages to make sure they are compatible using this tool offered by Google developers.