Beginning April 21, Google will implement a change into the SERP algorithm that will now consider whether a website is “mobile-friendly” or not. At SMX Munich, Google’s Zineb Ait Bahajji was quoted saying that the new mobile-friendly algorithm will have a greater impact for Google search results than the Google Panda or Google Penguin updates did.
Google keeps their updates close to the vest; that’s why their announcement about a mobile-friendly algorithm update has SEO experts and webmasters on the edge of their seats. Breaking from their usual protocol, Google held an hour-long Google+ hangout to address any overlying questions. Here’s what we learned:
Only Mobile Search Results Will Be Affected
Google’s new update will not affect desktop rankings. However, when 80% of internet users use their smartphones for search, it can be expected that if you don’t have a responsive website design your site won’t be reaching key audiences and customers. This is critical for institutions and brands who are trying to reach millennials and Gen Z, who increasingly multitask across up to five screens.
Your Page is Either Mobile-Friendly or Not
…there is no in between. The algorithm will evaluate your website on a page-by-page basis and will deem each individual page either mobile-friendly or not. You can check before April 21 by using Google Webmasters’ testing tool or just googling your site on a mobile device. If you have a grey “Mobile-Friendly” tag on the results page then your site shouldn’t be negatively affected by the update.
It Will Take About a Week to Roll Out
According to Google’s Q&A, “we are expecting it [the mobile-friendly algorithm] to roll out on April 21st. We don’t have a set time period because it is going to take a couple of days to roll out, maybe even a week or so.”
What Does This Mean for Me?
Google has always been about delivering the best experiences to searchers. That is the ultimate goal of the mobile-friendly algorithm. If you don’t have a responsive website design, there is still time to update your current site or build a mobile web design. Focus on building a responsive website with a strong user experience (UX) so you’re not chasing the algorithm in the future.
If your site is still not responsive at launch, continue to build your new or updated site. When your responsive website is done, Google will recognize it as mobile-friendly and your ranking on mobile will go back up.