Google is implementing a mobile update come April 21. They have been releasing small details, and here is what we know so far:
1. The penalty is on a page-by-page basis: Instead of judging an entire site, Google will assess the mobile friendliness of each page. This is very unlike Google Panda’s penalties: Usually a small section of a site can potentially impact the entire site by spewing duplicate and/or thin content. If your site is too difficult to change in time, worry first about your site’s most important organic landing pages: Make sure they are mobile friendly, and disregard other areas of the site.
2. Google is currently showing labels for mobile-friendly sites in their mobile search results:
Here is what the labels look like in mobile searches:
This is actually the most important of all tests: If your pages are showing the label, you’ve passed the mobile friendly test.
3. Come April 21, sites will start to see the ranking changes: Mobile friendly pages will see increased rankings, while unfriendly pages will see a decrease in rankings.
4. Bigger than panda or penguin: Google has relayed that this update is going to be larger than Panda or Penguin. The rankings of many pages are likely to be effected.
5. The update starts on April 21, and rolls out over a week: Do not breathe a sigh of relief on April 21 and stop checking. Instead check mobile friendliness labels, rankings and traffic levels daily for the week.
6. There are not degrees of mobile friendliness: Binary: There are not degrees of mobile friendliness. Even one issue is detected, and the URL will be treated as NOT mobile friendly.
7. The update is ongoing: No need to wait a year after you’ve implemented the fix. Instead, changes will be sensed on the next crawl of your page. Of course, you’ll want to use Google’s Webmaster Tools features to get pages reindexed quickly!
8. Some tests are inconclusive: When you spot the “Mobile Friendly” label on your page in Google’s mobile search results, you know your page is in the clear. But tool errors have been noted in Google’s testing tools:
- If pages are flagged in Webmaster Tools as Mobile Unfriendly, it can take a while for the errors displayed to clear once fixes are implemented.
- Some tests can fail or report a false positive when resources such as CSS or JS are blocked.
Google has never given notice of an impending deadline like this. It’s a bold experiment to get the web moving in what is clearly the right direction. But can sites be changed in time? It’s a tough deadline to meet for most companies.
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