Updated: 11th July 2017
Today I’m going to run through what we know about this upcoming Google rankings update. This is one of the first times that Google have announced that there will be an upcoming update which probably suggests it will be significant. After reading this post, you should be better prepared to get through this mobile update safely.
1. What is the Mobile Responsive update?
If your site doesn’t respond properly to a mobile sized screen, then after April 21st 2015, you will not show in Google search results conducted on a mobile device. Essentially, Google will be creating a mobile only index so there will be rankings for desktop and rankings for mobile. Beforehand, there was only one index.
If you want to read more from Google about it, you can find the announcement here.
2. How can I find out if My Website is Mobile Responsive?
Google have a tool where you can punch in your URL and it will tell you exactly where you stand. You can access it here.
3. Who Will it Affect?
This update will affect all searches across all languages and is expected to affect more websites than the large Penguin and Panda updates.
4. Will this affect Google Places listings, news listings, Ads etc?
No, this will only affect the ‘ten blue links’ the organic listings.
5. Why is Google Doing This?
This has been coming for a while and is more of a larger incremental shift than previous updates. Google has been urging web developers to make their sites more mobile friendly and now they’re enforcing it.
You’ve probably come across many websites that aren’t mobile friendly. You have to squint to see the text, you’re zooming in and out it’s not a pleasant and easy thing to do.
Google want their users to have a better experience and mobile device usage is exploding. They want websites to easily display content to users.
6. What Will Be the Effect On Rankings?
Google have stated that there will be a ‘significant impact to their search results’. As far as I’m aware, if you’re site doesn’t pass Google’s mobile friendly test you won’t rank in the mobile search results at all.
7. Will it Affect Desktop Search Rankings?
The general consensus at this stage is ‘no’ however we don’t entirely known this yet. One thing is for sure is that mobile use and search is increasing so now is probably a good time to get your website mobile responsive.
We also don’t know if mobile user metrics such as time on site will affect desktop rankings. Again, another good reason to get a responsive site now.
8. How Can I Find Out How Much Mobile Traffic Comes To My Site Already?
Log in to your Google Analytics dashboard. Go to ‘Audience’ on the left hand side. Click on ‘Mobile’, then ‘Overview’ and you’ll see your break up of mobile traffic. See the below screen shot.
9. Does it Affect Rankings on Tablet Devices?
We don’t know the answer to this yet.
Some experts have expressed views on both sides but how Google sees tablets as more of desktop or mobile will be revealed on April 21.
In my own experience, when I’ve changed sites to mobile responsive (but not necessarily change the display on a tablet), these sites have passed Google’s mobile testing tool.
10. What if My Mobile Site is on a Subdomain e.g. ‘m.domain.com’?
Google have always talked up the value of responsive sites that change with screen size saying that they’re easier to crawl, index and provide the algorithm with less confusion.
They haven’t been talking about this much lately which makes people think that Google are being more open with different types of mobile site architecture. This will be another thing to watch on April 21.
11. If my Site is not mobile friendly and I get it fixed after April 21st, how long will it take to get my rankings back?
Allegedly there will be no time penalty associated with this update. If you’re late getting your site mobile ready, then as soon as you get it fixed (and then Google crawls it which should be relatively quick), you’ll get the mobile tick of approval and will not continued to be penalised.
12. How Many Websites are Currently NOT mobile friendly?
Surprisingly a large number. These guys crawled the top 25 000 websites in the world and found that 40% of them were not mobile friendly.
Hard to believe this considering this update has been a long time coming.
13. So all I have to do is pass the Mobile Friendly Test?
To stay in the mobile search index yes but as time goes on, user experience will be as relevant as having a mobile site. And this will be more of a ranking factor. How do you improve user experience?
- Make it easy to navigate
- Make it easy for people to get what they need
- Make the phone numbers clickable
- Have good design e.g colours etc
- Make it load fast
Main thing to ask yourself is “how can I make it easier and faster for people to get what they want”.
So there you have it. The main points are don’t panic, pass the mobile friendly test and if you’re already mobile friendly, now might be a good time to focus on user experience.
If you’ve got any questions, contact me at various locations here.