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What? 85% of Pages Now ‘Mobile-Friendly’ Says Google

Today Google announced two things associated with mobile search results:

  1. The company is going to do away with the “mobile friendly” label in search results
  2. Disruptive interstitial ads or pop-ups may lead to a ranking penalty starting in 2017

On the second point Google showed both acceptable and less acceptable examples of interstitials, which appear after people click on mobile search results to a content page and see a pop-up or takeover. The company said that it was trying to discourage interstitials that made content “less accessible.”

It added that there will probably be a ranking penalty for those sites that continue to use “interruptive interstitials” after January 2017.

For purposes of this post, what’s more interesting is the removal of the mobile friendly label. Google introduced the mobile-friendly label roughly two years ago. And last year we saw Google implement a ranking boost (so-called “Mobilegeddon”) for mobile-friendly pages to encourage publishers to adopt mobile-optimized or responsively designed websites.

The mobile-friendly label was intended to signal to consumers that if they clicked they were likely to have a better experience than those sites without the label. Here’s what Google said in its post today:

Two years ago, we added a mobile-friendly label to help users find pages where the text and content was readable without zooming and the tap targets were appropriately spaced. Since then, we’ve seen the ecosystem evolve and we recently found that 85% of all pages in the mobile search results now meet this criteria and show the mobile-friendly label.

(Emphasis added.)

While this may be an inaccurate interpretation of the statement above, the implication is that 85% of pages that Google indexes are mobile friendly. That seems awfully high to me. According to Buzzboard data as recent as a month ago, roughly half of Chicago area SMB sites aren’t mobile ready.

In the run up to Mobilegeddon large numbers of brand and Fortune 500 sites were not mobile friendly. I’m not able to find data more recent than Q2 2015 on this issue. However there was more recent research showing that mobile friendly results were dominating mobile SEO.

It is possible that the carrots and sticks that Google wielded in 2015 scared and motivated publishers into adopting mobile sites. If so, that shows Google’s still-massive sway over the entire internet.

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