The pressure from Google is on. Whether you’ve been thinking about upgrading your site or you’re in the process of a mobile redesign, sooner is better than later. During the SMX Conference, Google’s Gary Lllyes hinted that sites will need to comply with Google’s standards for mobile usability by April 21 2015, or else face the consequences. April 21 is the day that the mobile-friendly tag will be turned on as a ranking signal and sites that don’t meet the mobile requirements will start to see a drop in their search rankings.
Lllyes indicated that mobile usability will be determined on a page by page basis, so even if most pages on your site pass as mobile-friendly, it does not mean your entire site will pass the test. Your whole site must be mobile-friendly to be worthy of the mobile tag, a few pages here and there won’t cut it; it’s all or nothing for Google.
Lllyes also addressed speculation that responsive sites may receive ranking boosts. While Google has been a huge proponent for responsive design, Lllyes reiterated that responsive sites won’t be getting any preferential treatment. Both responsive and mobile sites will be fair game when it comes to mobile ranking. Of course, a well-designed responsive site will ultimately result in better usability from a customer standpoint, and in the future could become a ranking signal for Google.
While Lllyes was careful not to let too much slip, he did indicate some more major changes coming to Google’s ranking index for mobile. Although Google hasn’t released anything formally, Lllyes indicated that a separate mobile search index is well in the works. There is no word from Google about when this kind of change could take effect, or how two separate indexes could affect SEO strategy in the future.