Although it has been said before, Google confirmed on Twitter that the new mobile ranking signal, which is scheduled to launch on April 21st, does not affect rankings on tablets.
@Jumzle The upcoming mobile-friendly change is for mobile users, not tablet users.
— Google Webmasters (@googlewmc) April 1, 2015
There have been concerns from those who either don’t plan to make their sites mobile friendly, or won’t have it done by the April 21st deadline, that they could see tablet referrals drop once the mobile ranking signal goes live. But despite many people considering tablets to be “mobile”, they aren’t considered mobile for this particular ranking signal. And as Barry notes, doing the same search on both a tablet and a smart phone shows only the smart phone with the “mobile-friendly” designator.
That said, it is an interesting decision to exclude the mobile ranking signal from tablets, as many non-mobile-friendly sites struggle on tablets, although usually not to the degree it affects mobile devices. At SMX West last month, Gary Illyes said that Google has no plans to create a tablet only ranking signal. That said, it is smart practices to ensure your sites are mobile friendly and work across all devices – including tablets.
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