The Google Mobile Friendly Update launches tomorrow, a day that many including ourselves here at Search Engine Land are calling “Mobilegeddon.” We first learned of Google’s plan to release a new algorithm designed to reward mobile-friendly web pages back in February. It’s unprecedented for Google to pre-announce a big algorithmic change like this, but Google did so in order to give publishers ample time to make their web sites mobile friendly.
The mobile friendly update will potentially give a ranking boost to mobile-friendly pages in Google’s mobile search results. Below you will find a list of common questions and concerns that have been answered over the past two-months around this algorithm.
Q: When is Google releasing the mobile-friendly algorithm?
A: The algorithm is launching tomorrow, April 21st. I checked in with Google this morning and they confirmed they are still on schedule with tomorrow.
Q: What is this algorithmic update, who will it impact?
A: This update will impact only mobile searchers and it will give a ranking boost to mobile-friendly pages in Google’s mobile search results only.
Q: Will it impact desktop searchers? Will my desktop rankings drop?
A: No, it will only impact mobile searchers and will have no impact on your desktop rankings.
Q: Will it impact tablet searchers?
A: No, this only impacts searches done on mobile smartphone devices, not tablets.
Q: How do I know if my site is mobile friendly?
A: There are a few ways but the only way to know if your site is already indexed by Google as mobile friendly is to see if your site has the mobile friendly label in the mobile search results. Using the mobile friendly testing tool will show if you pass the test, but Google may still need some time to update their index to pick up on the fact that your web pages are mobile friendly. You can also the mobile usability reports within Google Webmaster Tools, but those can be fairly delayed.
Q: Didn’t Google release a mobile ranking algorithm in 2013?
A: Yes they did,, but that was specific around core issues accessing a mobile site, this is expanding on that around mobile usability issues.
Q: When did we first hear about these new mobile ranking changes?
A: In December 2014, Google told us they are experimenting with a new mobile friendly ranking algorithm.
Q: Is the mobile friendly algorithm site-wide or on a web page by web page basis?
A: The mobile friendly algorithm is on a page by page basis. So even if only some of your web pages are not mobile friendly, some come benefit from this algorithm.
Q: Is this a real-time or delayed algorithm?
A: Unlike Panda or Penguin, the mobile friendly algorithm is run in real time. Sometimes the mobile friendly label can be delayed in showing up in the search results, but Google will pick up on those changes in real time.
Q: If I make my site mobile friendly today, how long will it take Google to pick up on those changes?
A: As we said above, the algorithm is real time. We also explained above that Google has to crawl your web pages to determine if they are mobile friendly. Early tests show that it can take anywhere from a few hours to over 72-hours if you do everything right for Google to show your web pages as mobile friendly. I would not be surprised if large sites can take up to a month to be displayed as fully mobile friendly. So make sure your most important pages are indexed as mobile friendly sooner than later.
Q: Will Google News, Local Results, In The News, Videos, be impacted by this algorithm?
A: No, only the core web search results will be impacted, not the local pack, not Google News or other vertical searches, until those departments decide to make a change.
Q: Can you be partially mobile friendly according to Google?
A: No, a web page is only mobile friendly or not mobile friendly, you cannot be more or less mobile friendly than another web page. It is a yes or no on being mobile friendly or not.
Q: Will my non mobile friendly web site drop in the rankings tomorrow, April 21st?
A: Not necessarily. Google said it can take a few weeks for the algorithm to roll out. So you might not notice the change for a few days to a few weeks.
Q: After it does roll out, how badly will my non mobile site be impacted?
A: Truth is, it is unknown right now. We were told it will be more significant than both the Panda and Penguin algorithms, which may mean that more than 11% of the search results will change from this.
Q: What about site speed? If my mobile site is slow but my desktop site is fast, will I be negatively impacted?
A: Currently no, you won’t. Several desktop signals still actually power mobile ranking. So slow mobile sites with fast desktop counterparts are one of those examples.
Q: Will large brand or navigational related mobile queries be impacted?
A: Not really. If a large brand has not gone mobile friendly and a searcher is looking for them in Google’s mobile results, Google will still likely rank that brand in the first position even if the page is not mobile friendly. Ultimately, relevancy is more important and it outweighs this mobile algorithm. So if Home Depot was not mobile friendly and you searched for [home depot] on your iPhone tomorrow, it would still rank number one.
Q: What if I’m the right answer but not a big site nor mobile-friendly?
A: The mobile friendly “signal” is, in the end, only one of many different signals that Google uses to rank pages. It may be that if you have the right page for a search, then you’ll still show regardless if you’re not mobile friendly. In fact, Google even gave Re/code a reassuring statement to this effect — that high-quality content could rank well, even if it’s not mobile friendly. Or course, it also could not rank well.
Q: Didn’t Android Apps already go live with this mobile friendly algorithm?
A: Yes, in February when Google announced the mobile friendly upgrade, Android apps installed on devices would benefit if the Android searcher is signed in. This past week, even non installed apps also began benefiting from this mobile friendly algorithm?
Q: What are the most common mobile SEO mistakes?
A: Google published a document with the top seven mistakes webmasters make when going mobile friendly.
Q: Will Google delist my site from search if I do not go mobile friendly?
A: Absolutely not. Although there are shady SEOs saying so.
Q: Do you need a special mobile sitemap file?
A: No, in fact, most mobile sites do not need a separate mobile sitemap at all.
Q: Will this impact AdWords ads?
A: No, this is only for organic listings, AdWords may have their own mobile factors but this is unrelated.
We’ll have more news about Mobilegeddon as it begins to rollout, so check back with us here at Search Engine Land. All our coverage on the topic can be found on our special Mobilegeddon / Mobile Friendly Update Page. By the way, at Search Engine Land’s upcoming SMX Advanced search conference, we’ll also be having a special session about the topic: Mobilegeddon! Surviving Google’s Mobile Friendly Update.