Did Google punish websites that are not mobile friendly in 2015?

No. A website which was not optimised for mobile devices for the Mobile Friendly Update, 2015, did not receive a penalty.

No penalty for un-optimised pages

Google made it clear that with the update, the visibility of individual mobile friendly pages should rise. This only affects Google’s mobile search results, which are shown for search requests using a smartphone. The desktop search results will not be affected by the Google update in any way.

We’re boosting the ranking of mobile-friendly pages on mobile search results.

Google Webmaster Central Blog

This should make it clear that there is neither an active discrimination nor any form of algorithmic penalty at work. Google will not penalise a website. If a website does not meet all the criteria for a mobile friendly use but still offers good, high-quality content, then this website will continue to rank and will still be found using a smartphone search.

Non-mobile-friendly sites won’t disappear from mobile Search results – they may still rank high if they hold great content the user wants.

Google Inside Search Blog

Mobile friendly pages receive a ranking boost

Google marks the mobile friendliness of a search result rather discretely using a label in front of the meta description. Any URL optimised for smartphone users can receive preferential treatment and a ranking boost. This occurs when, for example, two pages offer good content at the same quality level on a subject, but with only one of them being optimised for the needs of mobile searchers. In this case, the algorithm is supposed to ensure that the page optimised for mobile devices is treated favorably – ranking it higher.

Example images of non-mobile-friendly and mobile-friendly layout.

We published our initial findings and analysis of the mobile update in a blog post, summarising the effects of the algorithm update.

Misleading reports in the press

The assumption that Google would punish entire websites, if they were not optimised for smartphones by the deadline of the 21st of April 2015, is due to misleading and false reports in the press.

The following excerpts, which are circulated through the media and several articles are wrong or leave room for false conclusions:

  • The mobile friendly update only degrades pages that don’t offer a mobile version of their website.
  • Anyone who […] isn’t prepared will very likely be confronted with considerable penalties