Google’s Mobile Update to Release Tomorrow – What Will It Bring?

by Alex Graves
Bronco - Digital Marketing Agency

Okay so we know that Google are looking to release a new algorithmic update into their search engine which will impact the organic search results that mobile devices users see, a revelation that spans from the fact that Google have openly announced that they are looking to improve the user experience that is seen by their mobile user base, however details towards what the update is set to bring are slim at best.

Announced earlier in the year, Google stated that they were looking to improve their mobile results in a new upcoming update that would focus on the mobile friendliness of websites in a bid to continue to lead the search engine industry (based on the user figures that they have, opinions are varying here) and the fact that they openly revealed that the update was coming, months after they announced it meant that the news came with a real sense of urgency for websites to become compliant with the way in which Google deemed sites to be suitable for mobile users, much the same as when Google revealed their Google Panda and Penguin algorithms that have been seen to alter the online world so widely.

With speculation of a potential secondary index being used for this update, people have tried to foresee what impact could be seen from the update, fuelled by a further comment from someone inside of Google that claimed the update will have a bigger impact on related search results than we have seen from both Panda and Penguin previously.

With April 21st 2015 the date on which Google claimed they were looking to roll out their mobile friendly update (tomorrow), website owners are preparing themselves for an update which comes with large expectations of disruption to the mobile search results but in further clarification towards what we can expect to see happen, Pedro Dias (ex-Google) did a small FAQ style post that highlighted a little more information for those that are anticipating the pending release.

An example of the sort of information that we now know from that post is that we know that the mobile update will only affect the traditional organic results, meaning the links that you see under the ‘Web' tab when searching online with Google, meaning that maps and images will be unaffected by the release.

Furthermore, we know that app-indexing will not be given a higher level of treatment over responsive or adaptive mobile sites, the update will be page specific rather than rolled out at sitewide level and brand search terms will be untouched in the majority of cases.

Interestingly the post also references a secondary mobile index, saying that according to some sources there would be a second index in place to power this update, however if you have tried to make your site responsive and are yet to hit the ‘go' button to push it live, you could still be in for a dampening if Google have failed to index the site within the dataset that they intend to use.

Although Pedro does shed some further light on the possibilities that we are potentially looking at facing tomorrow as the update rolls out, there are still ample questions that remain unanswered including whether the release will be an instant switch over or a timely release as per many other Google updates in the past, how much of an effect failing to be mobile user friendly could be on a page that is already seen to be popular with mobile users regardless of their failing to meet Google recommendations and of course whether there will be ripples felt within the desktop search index should they fail to have a different index to fuel the changeover.

With the mobile update big news in the online world, there are plenty of posts out there that are causing discussion across the board but not many that offer as strong of a write up as Jen over at TheSEMPost, who shared 30 things that you need to know about the mobile update.

Speaking to Google's Gary Illyes, Jen was able to shed plenty of information about the impending update, helping to clarify some more of the shaded areas that were previously left open following the announcement from Google, while also confirming others elements that we knew about it.

Interesting take away points that Jen has to share are:

  • Make sure that if you have made your site ‘Mobile Friendly' you force Googlebot to recrawl to have the best chance of avoiding the actions that the algorithm is set to roll out.
  • Unblock resources needed for Google to render pages as a user would, including CSS and JavaScript files.
  • PageSpeed is not a metric within the mobile update, however will continue to be considered for desktop search.
  • The update is purely mobile device focused, desktops and tablets will not be affected.
  • HTTPS will not benefit sites within the mobile update, this is not something that they have built into the algorithm to determine ranking.
  • Check your WordPress plugins for mobile compatibility – Your site could be mobile friendly but they could cause enough of an issue to be deemed un-friendly for mobile users.
  • Check mobile friendly compatibility at more than homepage level, singular pages could have issues that the homepage doesn't based on a number of factors.

With plenty of take away points and things to think about here, we are going to leave you to take that in and allow you the time to check out the other two posts that we mentioned here in the article and will be back with some findings tomorrow as the update lands!

See you on the other side!

Bronco - Digital Marketing Agency
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