Google are regularly updating their search algorithm. Most of the time, these changes are small and don’t effect the way your website ranks. However, occasionally Google will roll out a major update, such as Panda or Penguin, that can affect the search performance of your website in a huge way.
Last week Google announced that on 21st April they would be releasing a mobile ranking algorithm. This means that mobile-friendly websites will now be given an improved ranking within mobile search results. A spokesperson from the Official Google Webmaster Central Blog said,
“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 optimised for their devices.”
At the moment Google have revealed very few technical specifics around the update. Webmaster trends analyst Gary Illyes shared a few details in a recent Q&A:
· Responsive design does not have a ranking benefit
· Mobile friendliness is determined at a page level, not sitewide
· Tablets will not be affected by this update
· Google is currently working on a dedicated mobile index.
However, this isn’t new information. Google have been hinting at updating their mobile algorithm for a while, and mobile search results will already label your listing if it’s ‘mobile friendly’:
Here’s how you can get mobile friendly:
Firstly, it’s not enough for your website layout to be responsive and work across different devices. Your site also needs to be fast and perform well. More importantly, your website needs to load effectively on cellular networks where Wi-Fi connection isn’t available.
Adapting image sizes, utilising CDN’s (content delivery networks) and server side caching are all common techniques used to improve the load time of a site.
In the past, Google have suggested that sites will be penalised and their rankings will suffer if they are slow to load and seen to be none mobile-friendly. In fact, Google are now experimenting with a damning ‘SLOW’ label in some mobile search results. Not something that you want to be labelled as.
But don’t panic. There is still time. On release of the update, Google will re-index your website. This means that any improvements you have made to your site before the 21st April will be accounted for and indexed by the Googlebots.
Why not find out how your website will perform by using Google’s ‘Mobile-friendly test’.
For more tips and advise on getting mobile-friendly, please get in touch.