Google have never made their plans for a better search engine experience a secret and have consistently tried to make changes to their search engine that would reflect what they believe to be the best search engine experience that users can find online and speculation in the industry this week seems to point towards that Google have once again created an algorithm that would automatically look to police how sites would deliver their information to users.
With Google Panda and Penguin updates already well documented and seen to be causing both joy and pain depending on which side of the spectrum you are deemed to be one following their latest update, mumbles of a search update were heard on Monday 26th January of significant movement within the organic search results, leading to many sticking their neck out to try to put their finger on the cause of the fluctuations, however official comment seemed to debunk those theories.
Many believed that Google had simply ruled out Google Panda once again, something that has become a monthly spectacle these days, however during a Google Webmaster Help hangout with John Mueller, we were given the official comment that the changes were not related to either the Google Panda or Google Penguin algorithm.
With both Panda and Penguin both ruled out, connections with the changes were linked back to reports that a number of website owners were reporting that they had received messages within their webmaster tools relating to how their website was treating mobile search users, after which many claimed they had seen a reduction in organic rankings.
A closer look at the impact that seems to have been seen w/e commencing 24th January, seemed to show that sites that were seeing the biggest reduction in rankings were those that failed to offer a superior mobile experience for those that are using Google on mobile or tablet devices.
With the recent fluctuations we have witnessed a number of instances that would support the fact that Google have released such an algorithm with a number of different sites seeing a reduction in organic rankings happen following the release that Google have confirmed to not be Panda or Penguin related, both ultimately resulting in being deindexed from the search engine due to how they are treating mobile search users.
Example one was a website that was serving the full content of posts to those that accessed the site via a desktop device however mobile users were displayed a snippet of the content before being prompted to download their mobile app to see the full version of the article, a clear breach of the logic that Google feel that both desktop and mobile users should be given the same level of experience and content.
The second example was a site that was treating their mobile users differently, pushing geo location traffic to alternative website options under their control with a view to create a conversion on the services that they offered, however Google clearly disliked their actions and a manual penalty was applied to the site and a generic ‘Sneaky Redirect/Cloaking' message being issued to them on Sunday 25th January.
Adding further speculation towards the enhanced focus on mobile search users, Jennifer Slegg posted an article on SEMPost.com claiming that she too had heard reports that non-mobile friendly sites were suffering following the update, drawing on the fact that Google had recently updated their Webmaster Tools platform to report on mobile issues found when Google were trying to access the site content via their mobile crawlers.
Google have failed to call the update by any sort of name or even indicate that the change was based on mobile usability thus far, however that is not unusual for the search engine giants to do, instead they would rather play their cards closer to their chest and leave website owners in the dark towards what they are looking to focus on within their organic ranking algorithms, however we do know that the evidence is very strong to support the mobile update theory.
As search engine use becomes more mobile than desktop based, it makes complete sense for Google to be looking to ensure that they are catering for their biggest user market and that coupled with the fact that we already know that failing to provide a mobile friendly usability within your site can impact search results found within the mobile results shows that Google could well be turning up the heat once again.