As you might have heard, last month (April of 2015) Google announced some changes to their search algorithm upon "unfriendly" mobile websites would get demoted in future searches. As Google claim, recent researches suggest that a poor mobile user experience tend to transmit a careless/sloppy impression, of both website owner and device being used. This decision is highly compressible since web traffic coming from mobile devices, is rapidly growing and Android (owned by Google) being most used mobile OS, is responsible to provide an enjoyable mobile experience not only with Apps but with web browsing too. While Google can't fix websites to be mobile friendly, they can ”derank” them from their search results.
However, Google is not alone in this fight against those unruly websites. Microsoft just announced that their search engine (Bing) will apply the same strategy (you can read more about it in this Engadget article). When two of the top three search engines declare war, we can only imagine that there will be casualties... “Death to Desktop only!”. Seriously now. You might ask who doesn’t have a mobile-friendly website this days? Just check this article from TechCrunch, where they claim 40% of Fortune 500 websites might be impacted by this decision. And they are just talking about Fortune 500, now imagine everyone else. If this turns out to be as impactful as expected, in the upcoming months there will be an increase of job openings for Web Developers.
All of this is great and in fact it is. No user should have a terrible browsing experience just because website owners don't care about mobile optimization. However, this strategy won’t fix all the problems. There are two different concerns that should be analyzed separately: mobile friendliness and mobile performance. Mobile-friendly is the capability of viewing a website without the need of scrolling, zooming in/out, pinching, and doing all crazy kind of interactions just to read the website content. So a mobile-friendly website can be roughly described as capable of adapting to device dimensions. On the other hand, mobile performance is defined by the time a website takes to load, navigate, interact and respond. From what I have read, Google’s decision is uniquely targeting mobile-friendliness and not performance. While is this not perfect, this is a great first step. A great mobile experience relies on viewability, responsiveness and speed. If you are working on mobile optimization, please consider all this metrics.
In combination with this announcement Google also released a tool to analyze how mobile-friendly a website is. Please test your website at https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/, the resulting analysis can give you a great set of suggestions to make your website mobile-friendly.