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Google Penalties For Sites That Aren't Optimized For Mobile

August 14, 2013

Photo Credit: Ron BennettsHi Jill,
One of my customers brought this blog article to my attention asserting that Google will rank a site poorly if it is not optimized for mobile devices.

This seems wrong to me, but I'm not sure. Any thoughts?


++Jill's Response++

Hi Doug,

After reading the article, it's clear that what Google is concerned about is misconfigured mobile sites as opposed to sites that aren't optimized for mobile devices. These are two completely different things.

If your client has no site designed specifically for mobile devices, then what the article is referring to--at least as I read it--is not relevant.

Still, it is a good idea to check how the site shows up in mobile browsers. If it's hard to read or somehow doesn't show up as expected, then that should be fixed. Nobody (including Google) would want to show a site that provides a terrible user experience to their visitors.

Hope this helps!



Jill Whalen has been an SEO Consultant and the CEO of Jill Whalen High Rankings, a Boston area SEO Company since 1995. Follow her on Twitter @JillWhalen

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Post Comment

 David Leonhardt said:
Great question, and the answer seems obvious to me. If your site sucks in mobile, Google won't show it in SERPs on a mobile device. If it is #1 for "Ooh what a great site" on your desktop, that does not mean it is #1 for "Ooh what a great site" on your iphone.

OK, I did say the answer "seems" obvious. I did not say that Google always does what seems obvious. However, if Google is not already doing this, how much would you like to bet that it is not far in coming?
 Thomas Smith said:
Google are all about user experience, as desktop users have had hammered into them. It's about time that, since mobile usage is vastly increasing, Google decided to make a considerable impression on mobile rankings....
 Colin Thomas said:
My understanding of this is that people who have duplicate content (ie. a mobile site on a .mobi domain or other mobile domain) with the same content as that on their website, google will hit them hard for such a clunky setup.

Responsive web design (done properly) means that your website should respond to the device being used whether it be mobile, tablet, PC, mac or whatever and show perfectly on that device.
There is no need for separate mobile websites on alternative domains with duplicate content.

I think that this is what Google are trying to achieve here. It's a great user experience across the board.

I am a web designer and we only build responsive sites now. We have invested a lot in this and when done properly it really has the wow factor for our clients. The fact that Google likes it too is a huge bonus.