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Google’s Mobile Update: What to Expect on April 21st

20 April 2015 by Genie Lab

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Usually, Google’s algorithm updates come with little or no warning. Its most impactful changes to ranking procedures, such as Penguin and Panda, came as a surprise to even the savviest SEOs.
However, last month Google announced its next major change:
The search giant will now take mobile usability factors into account to present the most relevant, high-quality mobile search results. Google said that this change will have a “significant impact” on mobile search results. Indeed, the fact that so much notice has been given means that huge numbers of websites will be affected.

Boosting app usage

The update will also benefit websites with apps that are indexed through Google. Users that have apps installed on their mobile devices will find their search results affected by any relevant apps. However, this only currently works for Android devices.

Watch your traffic… but don’t expect immediate fireworks

Whilst the 21st is the set date that the changes will be rolled out, we’re not actually going to see it in full swing until at least a week later. The algorithm may take a week to roll out – so don’t expect your traffic to change markedly at midnight on Tuesday.

How to prepare your website for ‘Mobilegeddon’

Google has highlighted a number of common mobile mistakes that the algorithm will discriminate against:

  • Blocked JavaScript, CSS and images – your site’s robots.txt should always allow Google to see the site as mobile users would. That means blocking specific images or features is a no-no. 

  • Unplayable videos – if you have content that’s not playable on mobile devices (for instance, if it requires Flash), you’ll fall foul of Google.

  • Bad redirects – all mobile redirects from desktop URLs must take users to the right mobile page.

  • Mobile-only 404s – if some desktop URLs take mobile users to a special mobile 404 page, Google will discriminate against the site.

  • App interstitials – landing pages that display large interstitials to provoke users to download an app are advised against. 

  • Cross-platform links – mobile pages shouldn’t link to desktop pages, and vice versa

  • Slow pages – as with desktop, slow mobile loading speeds will affect visibility

Is your site ready?

Wondering if your site is deemed by Google to be mobile-ready? Google has supplied a mobile-friendly test site that allows you to input your URL and find out whether you’ll be penalised.

You can find it here. We’ve passed the test.

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