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Google’s Mobile Ranking Algorithm Update

In a follow up to our December 2014 articles on ‘Google’s Mobile-Friendly Search Results’ and ‘Using Mobile Performance’, we take a look at, more specifically, the algorithm update that will have a “significant impact” on mobile search results worldwide for mobile searchers.

Not only is it beneficial to ensure that you have a mobile or responsive site, but also to test it to see how mobile-friendly Google deems it to be, so the ‘mobile-friendly’ accolade can be displayed in the mobile search results for your site. As we covered previously, this can be done by using the Mobile-Friendly Test tool. Note that the mobile-friendly update only affects mobile search results – i.e. searches from smart phones and tablets, not those conducted on a desktop or laptop computer.

Google recently stated that on April 21st 2015 its mobile ranking factors will not only label your site as mobile-friendly (as it has already been doing for those that it deems as such), but will also use that to determine if your site should rank higher in the search results. This is expanding on its mobile ranking demotion algorithm launched back in 2013 and from that “users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimised for their devices.”

This has been announced in advance, as Google said it wants sites to prepare. So, you have a few weeks to get your websites mobile-friendly! It stated it had been experimenting with mobile ranking factors recently, and now the changes to the algorithm are almost here.

Google’s Zineb Ait Bahajji from the Webmaster Trends team was recently quoted as saying that the “upcoming mobile-friendly ranking algorithm will have more of an impact on Google’s search results than the Google Panda update and the Google Penguin update did”. Unlike those, it is only impacting the mobile results but even so, it will have more of an impact than them. She didn’t specifically release a percentage of queries impacted, but believes that about 50% of all searches done on Google are on mobile devices.

This algorithm update would not be so important if mobile search wasn’t becoming so dominant. While some industries may not see a significant number of consumer driven searches coming from smart phones and tablets, many, if not most, do. Last year saw the very first moment where mobile search overtook that of desktop and the year ahead will continue along that path.

The critical point from this is that if 50% of your traffic from Google comes from mobile devices and if it seems you are not mobile-friendly, virtually all of that traffic from mobile is at huge risk. So if that’s the case, then it can’t be emphasised strongly enough that it’s imperative to get to work on it immediately.

If you want to know more about how the imminent algorithm update may impact your specific website’s mobile ranking results, contact us now.