The search engine will begin a gradual roll-out in May, with the update designed to support the search engine’s ‘mobile friendly’ algorithm. The company claims that if your website is already classed as mobile friendly, you are not going to see any adverse effects from this update.
What else do we know?
The wording of Google’s announcement suggests a gradual roll-out is in the offing, rather than an instant ‘switch on’ of the latest algorithm. The mobile friendly algorithm is also page-level signal, rather than a site-level signal, so any changes are likely to take some time to materialise.
Google has also clarified that the update is not an “absolute” update, and that context of the search will still be a major factor. It claims that a page that is not mobile friendly could still rank well if it offers high quality content that is relevant to the user’s search query.
What impact can we expect?
What this update is unlikely to be is another ‘#mobilegeddon’, which rolled out just under a year ago.
That is partly because organisations have had time to optimise their pages for mobile friendly compliance, so fewer websites and pages are exposed to the risk. The more gradual roll-out of this additional update will also mean that the impact is likely to be, at worst, a mild tremor rather than a full-blown earthquake.
What impact can we expect?
The first mobile friendly update was highly anticipated and indeed, much feared at the time, but it was a largely unremarkable development when it eventually rolled out.
There were few casualties from the update dubbed ‘mobilegeddon’ in April last year, and those that did suffer visibility drops did so for entirely avoidable reasons.
We found evidence of major brands not adopting mobile best practice, or even mobile websites at all, and these were unsurprisingly impacted. We also noted poor implementation of mobile website design, pages that weren’t migrated to mobile and poor usability, which again adversely affected visibility in organic search results.
So how do I respond
Understand how your web presence currently performs on mobile devices. If your pages are optimised, then you are unlikely to experience any adverse impacts, notwithstanding any other ranking factors that could affect your overall visibility. You can check your mobile friendly status with the Google mobile-friendly tool, and Google’s mobile guidelines.
There are also a number of other factors to consider:
Optimise your landing pages
Many of the brands that suffered visibility drops in previous mobile updates were dragged down by a number of landing pages that were not optimised for mobile devices. These were potentially high traffic terms (even on mobile devices) and in some cases, these pages were linked to directly from a mobile-friendly home page. This is a failure both from a search and user experience perspective.
Mobile friendliness is clearly a maturing update, and as it more sophisticated at determining the quality of a user experience, it is important that web designers think more carefully about user experience and usability.
Don’t neglect to optimise landing pages due to lower mobile search volumes. This can have a significant impact on your mobile experience.
Get your technical elements right
Ensure that your mobile proposition is correctly optimised, that device detection is correctly configured and that your primary customer facing mobile site can be indexed.