Google’s Mobile Update To Not Negatively Impact Non-Responsive Sites?

by Alex Graves
Bronco - Digital Marketing Agency

Google announced that they would be releasing a new mobile search algorithm that would look to use how mobile friendly your website is as a ranking factor within their mobile search results and with the confirmation that they would be giving those of us that do offer a strong mobile user experience a ranking factor boost, the online community has instantly switched their attention to making sure that their site offers a strong mobile user experience, but has John Mueller just revealed that sites that fail to offer a mobile friendly version will still be able to rank well within mobile search?

A slide from John Mueller’s presentation

While conducting the latest of the Google Webmaster Help Hangouts, John began his session with a short but to the point slideshow focused around what Google are going to be looking for in order to deem your site to be mobile friendly, pointing out that there are quick solutions available out there for those of you that use CMS based platforms such as Blogger or WordPress and those of similar focus.

Although the session started with a focus on the new mobile update which has been announced as being planned to launch April 21st 2015, questions following the slideshow were also focused around the mobile update, with one viewer asking a couple of interesting questions that resulted in the answers that sparked further conversation within the team at Bronco.

Asked how the mobile algorithm update would be rolled out, whether it was a "flick of the switch" or ‘timely roll out' like we have seen in other updates, John revealed (10mins 45secs into the video) that he didn't know how the update would take place, however he did cite that Google wanted to offer a release date for website owners so that they could focus on trying to bring their sites into the mobile friendly era without the "unknown pressure behind you" of not knowing when the update was coming.

It should be noted that John also pointed out that although the official announcement of the update says that it will be rolled out April 21st, that does not mean that it will roll out specifically on that date, just that they are targeting that date for release.

Having provided the answer to that question (however generic), the same viewer then asked how the update would deal with non-mobile friendly websites that were ranking for terms within the mobile search results, asking whether these sites would simply "drop out of the results" or if they would see "a decline in rankings over time" and this is where I feel the conversation got a little more interesting…

While answering the question, John revealed that sites that were seen to be offering a mobile friendly user experience would be given a ranking factor boost, however non-mobile friendly sites would not be simply removed from the search results, simply saying that those that do accommodate for mobile users would be given an additional boost.

John pointed out that some sites that don't offer responsive layouts or indeed a strong mobile experience for the user could still rank well within the search results of their mobile search organics because they could still be showing signs of being highly relevant and users continue to use the site, regardless of their less than friendly mobile offering.

Although the comments were made within the video session, it seems that many have overlooked the significance of this information; however the real insight will come as Google roll out the update into their mobile search engine.

For those of you that are also wondering what the cross-over will be in relation to mobile and desktop search, panic no more as John revealed that "as far as I know – no" when asked whether the update would have any effect on desktop search.

You can see the whole video of the hangout below:

The questions about the mobile algorithm that I have reported on here start at 10 minutes 45 seconds into the hangout and is linked within the coverage above.

Bronco - Digital Marketing Agency
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