The April changes to Google's ranking rules are already affecting many Australian websites. So what does this all mean?

Let's start by explaining 'responsive website design'. Wikipedia sums it up well, by stating

Responsive web design (RWD) is an approach to web design aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing experienceeasy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrollingacross a wide range of devices (from desktop computer monitors to mobile phones).

The case for responsive website design is large; as web surfing escapes the limits of desktop devices, and migrates to mobile and tablets and other devices, website owners need to keep providing a similar experience and content to all platforms.

For quite some time, Google, the largest traffic referrer for most Australian websites, has flagged 'mobile friendly' websites when searching on your mobile device, as shown below. Now, however, they have taken it one step further.

Left: Desktop search results. Right: Mobile search results.

In this telling blog post by Google, they reveal that they'll be pushing for a more responsive web, and very soon. They state in their post;

Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.

This means that if you have an old non-mobile friendly website, that it will likely lose ranking on Google from this month.

So, how prepared is the Australian web space?

We reviewed the websites of the members of the ASX100. Being publicly listed large enterprises, you would expect that their digital marketing budgets far outweigh the Australian SME space, and they would be well prepared for these changes.

Sadly, only 35% of websites for these large Australian companies were responsive, meaning 65% of the ASX100 are behind in web standards.

asx100-responsive-websites

The move to a mobile-friendly web has been gradual over the last few years, and should not come as a shock to any web professional or website owner.

If you have had a website created in the last few years, you're likely not going to be impacted. Older websites, however, will find they receive less visitors from Google as a result of these algorithm changes.

We wrote about this on thisblog a few times over the last three years, such as this post from January 2014 and have been suggesting to many website owners to get ready for the large percentage of website visitors now using mobile phones to surf the web.

Google have created this handy tool for you to check your website. Simply type in your website address, and they'll let you know if Google considers it 'mobile ready' or not.

Detailed findings

Let's look at all of the members of the ASX100, and our findings from our research in early April 2015;

ASX Code Company Name Mobile Friendly
AGL AGL Energy Limited No
AMP AMP Limited Yes
APA APA Group Stapled No
ASX ASX Limited No
ABC Adelaide Brighton Limited No
ALQ Als Limited Yes
AWC Alumina Limited No
AMC Amcor Limited No
ANN Ansell Limited Yes
ALL Aristocrat Leisure Limited Yes
AIO Asciano Limited Yes
AZJ Aurizon Holdings Limited No
AST Ausnet Services Stapled No
ANZ Australia And New Zealand Banking Group Limited No
BHP BHP Billiton Limited No
BOQ Bank of Queensland Limited No
BPT Beach Energy Limited Yes
BEN Bendigo And Adelaide Bank Limited No
BSL Bluescope Steel Limited No
BLD Boral Limited No
BXB Brambles LimitedStar Stock No
CSL CSL Limited No
CSR CSR Limited No
CTX Caltex Australia Limited No
CAR Carsales.com Limited Yes
CGF Challenger Limited No
CCL Coca-cola Amatil Limited Yes
COH Cochlear Limited No
CBA Commonwealth Bank of Australia Yes
CPU Computershare Limited No
CWN Crown Resorts Limited Yes
DXS Dexus Property Group Stapled No
DOW Downer Edi Limited No
DUE Duet Group Forus No
DLX Duluxgroup Limited No
EGP Echo Entertainment Group Limited No
FXJ Fairfax Media Limited Yes
FDC Federation Centres Stapled Yes
FLT Flight Centre Travel Group Limited Yes
FMG Fortescue Metals Group LTD No
GPT GPT Group Stapled Yes
GMG Goodman Group Stapled No
GNC Graincorp Limited Yes
HVN Harvey Norman Holdings Limited Yes
HSO Healthscope Limited No
HGG Henderson Group PLC Cdi 1:1 No
ILU Iluka Resources Limited No
IPL Incitec Pivot Limited Yes
IAG Insurance Australia Group Limited Yes
IOF Investa Office Fund Stapled No
IFL Ioof Holdings Limited No
JBH JB Hi-fi Limited Yes
JHX James Hardie Industries PLC Cdi 1:1 Yes
LEI Leighton Holdings Limited No
LLC Lend Lease Group Stapled No
MQG Macquarie Group Limited Yes
MTS Metcash Limited Yes
MIN Mineral Resources Limited No
MGR Mirvac Group Stapled Yes
MND Monadelphous Group Limited Yes
NAB National Australia Bank Limited No
NVT Navitas Limited Yes
NCM Newcrest Mining Limited No
NVN Novion Property Group Stapled Yes
OSH Oil Search Limited 10T No
ORI Orica Limited Yes
ORG Origin Energy LimitedStar Stock No
ORA Orora Limited No
PPT Perpetual Limited No
PRY Primary Health Care Limited No
QBE QBE Insurance Group Limited No
QAN Qantas Airways Limited No
REA REA Group LTD No
RIO RIO Tinto Limited No
RHC Ramsay Health Care Limited Yes
REC Recall Holdings Limited Yes
RMD Resmed Inc Cdi 10:1 Yes
STO Santos LimitedStar Stock No
SCG Scentre Group Stapled No
SEK Seek Limited No
SGM Sims Metal Management Limited No
SHL Sonic Healthcare Limited No
SKI Spark Infrastructure Group Forus No
SGP Stockland Stapled No
SUN Suncorp Group Limited No
SYD Sydney Airport Forus No
TPM TPG Telecom Limited No
TAH Tabcorp Holdings Limited Yes
TTS Tatts Group Limited Yes
TLS Telstra Corporation Limited No
TOL Toll Holdings Limited No
TPI Transpacific Industries Group LTD No
TCL Transurban Group Stapled Yes
TWE Treasury Wine Estates Limited No
WES Wesfarmers Limited Yes
WFD Westfield Corporation Stapled Yes
WBC Westpac Banking Corporation No
WPL Woodside Petroleum Limited No
WOW Woolworths Limited No
WOR Worleyparsons Limited No

For a website to be mobile friendly, your website needs to display properly (although typically not the same) on the main platforms being;

  • Desktops
  • Tablets
  • Mobile and smart phones

Not long from now, websites are likely expected to work on other devices as well; smart watches such as the Apple Watch, other wearables and game consoles, although these are a very small percentage of website visitors at the moment.

If you have further questions, or wish to arrange a discussion about the impact this change will have on your website, then please get in touch with us.