Next Google Update Targets Mobile

Google update rewards mobile-friendly sites.

Webmasters have been wondering for a few months now if a new Google update targeting mobile friendliness is coming. First, the search engine rolled out a feature that would label mobile-friendly sites as such in the mobile search engine result pages. Next, Google began notifying webmasters if their sites weren’t mobile-friendly.

Finally, Google has showed its cards: Beginning April 21, mobile friendliness will be used as a ranking factor in mobile search.

The fact that there is a specific date for the Google update shows the importance the search engine is placing on mobile. Coupled with the strong language in the announcement—“This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results.”—webmasters get a good idea of how imperative a positive mobile experience is to a site’s ultimate success in Google.

Before any blind panic ensues, there are two important things to acknowledge regarding this Google update. The first is that this ranking factor applies on mobile search results only.

The language is nuanced, but it’s there: The mobile-friendliness signal will affect mobile search results only. Thus, if a user enters a search query on a mobile device, the sites that are optimized for mobile will show up higher in the results. Google is making it “easier [for users] to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for devices” in order to provide the best user experience.

Second, the mobile signal runs on a page-by-page basis.

Because the ranking factor runs on a page-by-page basis, only those pages that are optimized for mobile will benefit. Thus, it’s not imperative that every page on a site is mobile-friendly come April 21; all is not lost if a content management system can’t handle that many conversions in a short amount of time. That said, it’s smart to work toward a fully mobile-optimized site. As mobile growth increases, having most (if not all, ideally) pages be mobile-friendly will be the gold standard.

As more and more users turn to mobile for their search queries, it’s imperative that sites in return have excellent mobile experiences. This update makes that all the more true.