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Are you ready for Google’s next huge algorithm change?

mobile1Google’s secret algorithm is changing April 21.

Google Will Punish You If You Don’t Have A Mobile-Friendly Website
Google is clear, saying “Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.”

Businesses that don’t optimize for handheld devices like smartphones and tablets, by offering a properly configured mobile responsive site, will be negatively affected in their placement of search results, and could ultimately affect their bottom lines.

The search-results incentive is a powerful one, especially as mobile search increases.

Google’s effort to punish you if you don’t have a mobile friendly website is also a clear emphasis on page-load speeds.

To get help with making a mobile-friendly site, or if you have questions about mobile-friendly websites, call us at 512-825-4353.

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Directly From Google:
Finding more mobile-friendly search results

Posted: Thursday, February 26, 2015
Webmaster level: all

When it comes to search on mobile devices, users should get the most relevant and timely results, no matter if the information lives on mobile-friendly web pages or apps. As more people use mobile devices to access the internet, our algorithms have to adapt to these usage patterns. In the past, we’ve made updates to ensure a site is configured properly and viewable on modern devices. We’ve made it easier for users to find mobile-friendly web pages and we’ve introduced App Indexing to surface useful content from apps. Today, we’re announcing two important changes to help users discover more mobile-friendly content:

1. More mobile-friendly websites in search results
Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.

To get help with making a mobile-friendly site, check out our guide to mobile-friendly sites. If you’re a webmaster, you can get ready for this change by using the following tools to see how Googlebot views your pages:

If you want to test a few pages, you can use the Mobile-Friendly Test.
If you have a site, you can use your Webmaster Tools account to get a full list of mobile usability issues across your site using the Mobile Usability Report.
2. More relevant app content in search results
Starting today, we will begin to use information from indexed apps as a factor in ranking for signed-in users who have the app installed. As a result, we may now surface content from indexed apps more prominently in search. To find out how to implement App Indexing, which allows us to surface this information in search results, have a look at our step-by-step guide on the developer site.

More From Google:
Changes in rankings of smartphone search results

Smartphone users are a significant and fast growing segment of Internet users, and at Google we want them to experience the full richness of the web. As part of our efforts to improve the mobile web, we published our recommendations and the most common configuration mistakes.

Avoiding these mistakes helps your smartphone users engage with your site fully and helps searchers find what they’re looking for faster. To improve the search experience for smartphone users and address their pain points, we plan to roll out several ranking changes in the near future that address sites that are misconfigured for smartphone users.

Let’s now look at two of the most common mistakes and how to fix them.

Faulty redirects
Some websites use separate URLs to serve desktop and smartphone users. A faulty redirect is when a desktop page redirects smartphone users to an irrelevant page on the smartphone-optimized website. A typical example is when all pages on the desktop site redirect smartphone users to the homepage of the smartphone-optimized site.

This kind of redirect disrupts a user’s workflow and may lead them to stop using the site and go elsewhere. Even if the user doesn’t abandon the site, irrelevant redirects add more work for them to handle, which is particularly troublesome when they’re on slow mobile networks. These faulty redirects frustrate users whether they’re looking for a webpage, video, or something else, and our ranking changes will affect many types of searches.

Avoiding irrelevant redirects is very easy: Simply redirect smartphone users from a desktop page to its equivalent smartphone-optimized page. If the content doesn’t exist in a smartphone-friendly format, showing the desktop content is better than redirecting to an irrelevant page.

We have more tips about redirects, and be sure to read our recommendations for having separate URLs for desktop and smartphone users.

Smartphone-only errors
Some sites serve content to desktop users accessing a URL but show an error page to smartphone users. There are many scenarios where smartphone-only errors are seen. Some common ones are:

If you recognize a user is visiting a desktop page from a mobile device and you have an equivalent smartphone-friendly page at a different URL, redirect them to that URL instead of serving a 404 or a soft 404 page.

Make sure that the smartphone-friendly page itself is not an error page. If your content is not available in a smartphone-friendly format, serve the desktop page instead. Showing the content the user was looking for is a much better experience than showing an error page.

Incorrectly handling Googlebot-Mobile. A typical mistake is when Googlebot-Mobile for smartphones is incorrectly redirected to the website optimized for feature phones which, in turn, redirects Googlebot-Mobile for smartphones back to desktop site. This results in infinite redirect loop, which we recognize as error.

Avoiding this mistake is easy: All Googlebot-Mobile user-agents identify themselves as specific mobile devices, and you should treat these Googlebot user-agents exactly like you would treat these devices. For example, Googlebot-Mobile for smartphones currently identifies itself as an iPhone and you should serve it the same response an iPhone user would get.

Unplayable videos on smartphone devices. Many websites embed videos in a way that works well on desktops but is unplayable on smartphone devices. For example, if content requires Adobe Flash, it won’t be playable on an iPhone or on Android versions 4.1 and higher.
Although we covered only two types of mistakes here, it’s important for webmasters to focus on avoiding all of the common smartphone website misconfigurations. Try to test your site on as many different mobile devices and operating systems, or their emulators, as possible, including testing the videos included on your site. Doing so will improve the mobile web, make your users happy, and allow searchers to experience your content fully.