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Google changes make responsive design a priority

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Google, the world’s leading search engine, is making changes to how it displays search results that will have a “significant impact” on sites not built to work responsively on mobile devices.

With immediate effect from 21st April, sites which are mobile-friendly will be give priority in search results on mobile. Google says: “This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results.”

The search company didn’t specify if this would also impact desktop searches, but there is widespread speculation in the SEO community that, if it doesn’t yet, it will in the near future.

The change means that sites which are built to work responsively, with a layout that adapts to mobile, will rank higher in users’ searches than those which aren’t, and is one of the biggest changes in the way Google ranks sites that has ever been announced.

In 2014, the number of people using mobile to access the web overtook those using desktop and laptop devices – and the gap continues to grow. With the web increasingly becoming a mobile experience, Google’s new search weighting is designed to reward sites which deliver their content for the majority audience.

If you want to check how well your site works responsively in Google’s eyes, you can use their  Mobile Friendly Test which analyses individual pages on your site and advises you what needs to be done to make them mobile friendly.