Roll Out of New Google Mobile Update Algorithm

As of the 21st April 2015, the Google mobile update algorithm began to roll out. Despite expected instant chaos and large movements in rankings, so far one day into the update, not much significant SERP’s movement has been detected.

Google announced the release here stating that the algorithm will only affect ‘mobile’ devices, so NOT tablets, which, with larger screens are treated differently. This means that in theory at least, PC/Laptop searches will remain unaffected.

The algorithm focuses on three key areas;

  • content is readable without tapping or zooming
  • clickable links are spaced suitably
  • the page avoids horizontal scrolling and unplayable content

They also point out that the algo applies to individual pages, rather than being site wide, so only unmobile friendly pages will suffer.

Google mobile update

Who’s Ready For This Google Mobile Update?

The writing has been on the wall for some time with regard to Google mobile compatibility. Mobile usage has been growing exponentially year on year, with over 50% of searches now being conducted through mobile phones.

According to around 40% of fortune 500 companies are not ready for this Google algorithm and are about to be hit in mobile SERP’s.

If 40% of the largest companies are not prepared, it stands to reason that many millions of smaller companies and businesses will be even less ready to take advantage of this ranking opportunity.

Searchengineland produced this useful Q & A about google new mobile algo which covers everything you need to know.

Mobile Algorithm Is Not A Punishment

Google are adamant that this new algorithm for mobile search is not going to penalise anyone. Instead they say, it is going to ‘reward’ mobile friendly websites, by giving them a boost in SERPs.

While Google’s point is that the algo will not actively apply a penalty to a non mobile-friendly site, by definition, if it moves mobile friendly sites above you in the mobile search then you have dropped….. so it’ll feel like a penalty…. whether or not it actually is or not.

This update is the biggest algorithm change for over 3 years, and could well have a larger impact than either Panda or Penguin in 2011 and 2012. See this article for info on where Google is going with this change

Google Restyles The Web

Google has a history of enforcing its will upon us. With increased competition from Facebook et al, they are looking to improve the quality of the results they provide. When a searcher uses Google, it is preferable for them to find content that is compatible with the device that they are using.

Google has the power to shape the web in their preferred image. Because of the traffic volumes they have at their disposal, and the rewards available to webmasters that harness googles traffic successfully, they have the power to manipulate large volumes of website owners to redesign and organise their content in Googles favoured format.

How long will it be before we all need to make an iWatch friendly version of our sites??

How To Check Google Mobile Update Compatibility

The first step, if you haven’t already done so, is to check your website for Google mobile update compatibility. As a broad rule of thumb, if your site appears on a mobile in the same format as it does on larger screens, then you are not compatible.

Use this Google compatibility tool to test your site

If the tool shows a green tick and says you’re awesome….. congratulations, you don’t need to do anything else to avoid any large movements in mobile SERP’s.

If the tool says you are not mobile friendly, then you need to address the issues as soon as possible, otherwise, you won’t appear (or not very high) for Google searches carried out on mobile phones.

The good news is that unlike the Panda & Penguin algorithms which only update once or twice a year, this Google mobile update algo will (so we are told) work in real time, meaning that once you have made your site mobile compatible, you will reappear in mobile serps soon after Google next spider your site.

This is an opportunity to gain, rather than an algorithm to fear……

Additional Resources:

What is Mobile Friendly?

Mobile Friendly & User Engagement

Does Google Hate Your Website?

What is SEO?