Everything You Need to Know about Google’s Mobile-Friendly Update Rolling Out on April 21

Every year Google makes hundreds of changes to its search algorithm. The motivation is always the same- to deliver the best results possible to users. This year, Google announced a major update that will affect search results in significant ways. The announcement was made on February 26, 2015 on Google’s Webmaster Central Blog, an unusual move by the search engine in that most algorithm updates come with little or no warning. For search marketers, knowing the specific details of the change as well as an exact roll out date is helpful to improve search engine optimization.


About the Algorithmic Update Rolling Out on April 21

In an effort to deliver the best possible results to the increasing number of mobile users, Google is expanding its use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor starting April 21. Once rolled out, the algorithmic change is expected to affect mobile queries in all languages and have an impact more significant than both Google Panda and Google Penguin. At the time of the announcement, Google also talked about App Indexing for a better search experience. So the mobile-friendly update by Google will include two important changes to help users find the most relevant and timely mobile-friendly search results:

  • More high quality mobile-friendly websites in search results

  • More relevant content from indexed apps in search results

6 Things You Need to Know about Google’s Upcoming Mobile-Friendly Update

1. The Changes Google is Making on April 21

Recently, we’ve seen Google test out many changes to apps, Google Play and the presentation of mobile-friendly results up the SERPs. We also saw the search engine giant add Mobile Usability Report in Google Webmaster Tools and send warnings to webmasters with non-mobile friendly sites. Clearly these changes were in preparation for the 4/21 update. At core though, Google just wants users to have a great online experience and adapting to the new mobile usage patterns, the search engine seeks to improve mobile online experiences. So just give your users a great experience and Google will reward your efforts.

2. Will the update affect your desktop rankings too?

On a panel at SMX Munich, Zineb Ait Bahajji from Google answered this question with a non-hesitant no. This leads to the rational conclusion that Google will launch a new mobile crawler to parse, index, and evaluate mobile search results without desktop repercussions

3. How much of an impact will the changes have on mobile rankings?

On the same panel at SMX Munich, Zineb Ait Bahajji also mentioned that the 4/21 mobile-friendly update to Google’s search algorithm will be bigger than any Panda and Penguin updates we’ve seen so far. This could mean that even if you are able to maintain your keyword rankings in mobile search after the update rolls out, you may not necessarily be able to sustain your mobile traffic.

4. Will sites that redirect to a mobile subdomain be considered mobile-friendly?

Immediately after the announcement of Google’s mobile-friendly update, significantly more ‘m.’ websites started ranking well in the mobile SERPS. Additionally, as of late, many of Google’s representatives have backed off of their strong insistence on responsive design. So while a responsive website design is Google’s recommended configuration, it seems like the search engine is willing to accept other viable mobile site architectures.

5. How can you make sure that your website meets Google’s requirements for mobile friendliness?

This one’s easy. If you want to test a few pages, you can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test, which will give you a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer on a per-URL basis. To assess your website’s overall mobile friendliness, you can use your Webmaster Tools account to retrieve a list of your website’s mobile usability issues using the Mobile Usability Report.

Note that since the results of the Mobile-Friendly Test are binary, clearly Google is sending out the message that your page is either mobile-friendly or not. There will be no degrees of mobile-friendliness.

6. Will having a mobile app have an impact on your mobile rankings?

Basically, two things come into play here. First, if a mobile search query is highly correlated with mobile app listings, having a mobile app could mean more visibility within the mobile SERPs. Secondly, Google Webmaster Trends analyst Mariya Moeva recently announced at SMX West that Google will be considering, within standard web and mobile web search, “high quality” apps as positive ranking factors.

Are You  Ready for the Upcoming Algorithmic Changes?

If you already have a mobile optimization strategy in place, Google’s mobile-friendly algorithm update won’t have much effect on you. But if you have yet to optimize your site to be mobile-friendly, you may want to jumpstart the process with these three steps:

  1. Make sure your site is optimized for mobile

You have two choices. Either you host a separate, mobile-friendly version of your site or you implement a responsive website design to be compatible with different screen sizes and devices

  1. Check your crawlability

Google’s crawlers should be able to see your site on mobile so avoid the most common mistakes such as blocking JavaScript, CSS and image files and content not accessible by mobile.

  1. Make sure each page on your website is optimized for mobile

This is because Google will be evaluating mobile-friendliness on a page-by-page basis.

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3 Responses to “Everything You Need to Know about Google’s Mobile-Friendly Update Rolling Out on April 21”

  1. Alisha Desai on April 24th, 2015 6:52 am

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  2. Thanika Craftor on April 28th, 2015 10:16 am

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  3. maximizer on May 8th, 2015 9:34 am

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