The official news came just hours ago that the world's leading search engine will be making notable changes to its mobile algorithm.
Mobile friendly websites have been a key focus in recent years with businesses looking to appeal to a larger market and make browsing and purchasing on the go a streamlined process. It's been a long time coming following the numerous whispers and suggestions over the past year, but Google have finally announced some new information on what could be a game changer for the online marketplace.
Starting from April 21st, mobile-friendliness will be considered as a ranking signal that will affect users worldwide in all languages, and is claimed to have a significant impact on our search results. It's been a while since the term "significant" was been used for something like this, especially from the likes of Google – we're expecting big things. The aim is to ensure that users will receive the most relevant and timely mobile-only results whilst out and about, making sure that websites are fully optimised for the mobile device conducting the search.
Does this explain the recent January algorithm update that created tremors in ranking movements? Could this have been a preliminary test to weigh up the impact? As it was clarified by John Mueller that this wasn’t related to Panda or Penguin, leaving many webmasters somewhat perplexed as to the cause.
This breaking news comes just a few months after Google granted us access to their mobile friendly guidelines which they now urge all webmasters across the globe to use in order to ensure that their website makes the cut. But don't panic too much, Google have been kind enough to allow businesses approximately 8 weeks to prepare for the update allowing time to put the mobile friendly tool to the test, which suggests improvements required in order to achieve results. Not forgetting that the Webmaster Tools mobile usability report is also at hand to list issues requiring action.
As an agency, responsive, mobile-friendly websites are something we’ve been building over the past 2 years and have always been recommended to clients as the next evolution for on page optimisation, but do we think that 8 weeks is a suitable period to action what needs to be done? For the businesses who have already pulled together a mobile friendly website, fine tuning and ongoing amends is somewhat easy. For those larger business who are struggling to adapt to the current mobile demands, planning and actioning is a timely process – Especially when in depth testing and quality assurance is yet to throw into the mix.
The big news doesn’t end there… Google have also revealed that as of yesterday, they will begin to monitor and utilise information gathered from app indexing. This will only work for people who are signed in to Google on their mobile device (in this case, android only devices currently), but tells us that we should expect to see content from apps appear more prominently in mobile SERPS.
To learn more about this new update, visit the Official Google Webmaster Blog.