SEO: Google to Make ‘Mobile-friendly’ a Ranking Signal
Do you have a mobile or responsive site? If not, on April 21 you may find it harder to rank in Google’s mobile search results.
Google announced algorithm updates that will have a “significant impact” on mobile search results worldwide for mobile searchers. The update improves rankings for sites that provide a mobile-friendly experience to searchers on mobile devices, and, by association, demotes sites that do not.
Google announced algorithm updates that will have a “significant impact” on mobile search results worldwide for mobile searchers.
Note that the mobile-friendly update only affects mobile search results — i.e., searches from smartphones and tablets — not searches conducted on a desktop or laptop computer.
In addition, the algorithm is applied worldwide, page by page, on a real-time basis. “Worldwide” means that the algorithm update affects mobile searchers and search results in all countries at the same time, rather than just rolling out in the U.S. first.
“Page by page” means that each page’s mobile friendliness is judged separately. That’s good news if your ecommerce catalog is mobile friendly but your forums or other content sections are not. The unfriendly sections will not cause your entire site to be ranked as unfriendly.
“Real time” means that you can expect to see the mobile ranking benefit of making your site mobile friendly right away. The next time Googlebot crawls your pages and determines that they are newly mobile friendly, the mobile-friendly ranking algorithm would kick in for those pages. This is especially good news because some algorithm updates have been processed on a monthly or unknown time cycle and applied to the algorithm in batches.
Beware, though, because real time also works both ways. If an update were made to your site that makes pages unfriendly, the mobile-friendly ranking algorithm would kick in for those pages the next time your site is crawled.
In addition, content from indexed Android apps can now be ranked in search results for searchers who are signed in to Google and have that Android app installed on their mobile device. Since Google would have no access to Apple’s iTunes database, iOS apps would not be included in this app ranking improvement.
Google’s stated goal is to improve searcher experience. It’s frustrating to search on a phone and land on a page that’s so tiny you can’t accurately click the links without pinching and zooming and scrolling to find the right text or links.
Google is converting that frustration into an improvement in its search results, so that more mobile searchers will land on sites with positive mobile experiences. It makes sense from the searcher’s perspective, which is what matters to Google.
But from an ecommerce perspective, it could possibly be a very costly update in terms of lost mobile traffic and revenue.
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