You might have heard about something called mobilegeddon recently. That’s because Google announced (and now rolled out) an update to their mobile search algorithm, that controls the search results being shown – and possibly it’s a little bit because people in general like to be pretty dramatic.
The big change is that the result ranking will weigh in whether or not a page is “mobile friendly”. This can have huge effects especially on smaller business that rely on Google for local traffic for example (you local pizzeria and similar). I’m no SEO-expert (Search Engine Optimizing) so I’m not gonna advice you more than that you should try Google’s evaluation tool: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/ (there’s also a link to a good blogpost about what it means). The picture on your left shows my result – wohoo!
But I’m gonna chip in on the question if this is bad manners from Google and if they are too dominant like some journalists and businesses have been saying. The search giant is indeed pretty dominant in many markets and changes like this “forces” companies and sites to adjust according to Google’s wishes. When it comes to adapting to our new browsing patterns (i.e. mobile) I’d say that’s using their power for something good but it could also be used to “bully” people into other practices. Should “moral” sites be ranked higher? Religious sites? It’s not hard to come up with very problematic examples., should we just trust Google to do what’s right? MY main argument why this is different is that it’s not about content but merely delivery. That could be a problem too (e.g promoting certain platforms) but it’s smaller, and there’s already a content evaluation happening in the ranking so what’s new?
In the end it comes down to this, who’s the customer? In Google’s case there’s no clear cut answer. From a user perspective, when I search from a mobile device the service is more useful if it ranks mobile friendly sites higher. Google knows that the better service they offer users, the more interesting they are to advertisers who of course are also customers. This change benefits one of their customer groups, the other will have to adapt and I have a hard time thinking about this as something else than a company simply reiterating their product.