Understanding Google’s Upcoming Mobile-Friendly Algorithm Changes

google mobile algorithm

Come April 21, 2015, megalithic search engine Google will divide the HTTP world into the Haves and the Have Nots, into those that are mobile-friendly and those that are not.

There is no spectrum of mobile-friendliness. In an effort to woo the 60 percent of its traffic that search by smartphone, tablet and “phablet,” Google will either assign a website a gray mobile-friendly label in the SERP description, or it will not. Pages that fail the test will either not be returned or will straggle in at the bottom.

The algorithm works by page-by-page, real-time analysis. It does not affect desktop searches.

In a Google+ Hangout video chat, Google officials reported that more than 200 factors played into the mobile-friendliness of a webpage. Factors include font size, button-to-button distances, scannable content and site responsive design.

Google released a brief checklist of faults to repair before the April algorithm rollout. Enable URL redirect pages rather than mobile-only 404 error pages. Allow Googlebot access to Javascript, CSS and image files in the sites robot.txt files, Google said. Don’t rely on “unplayable” content like proprietary media or Adobe Flash.

Many of Google’s recommendations spawned from their concern over the user experience and not only backend design. It is very important, said the search engine honchos, is to improve page loading speed. Google does not recommend auto-play videos or full-page interstitial advertisements, since these interruptions can annoy the visitor.

Webmasters can test out their pages using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool. Those that have the Google Webmaster Tool can access a full roster of mobility issues through the generated Mobile Usability Report.

There are other issues to which no one has yet received crystal-clear answers. Google has asserted that organic mobile results will see changes, but it is “unclear” how things will play out in Google Adwords, leaving SEO experts a bit bewildered.

Google News, by the way, is currently exempt from the SEO algorithm changes. Within a few days or weeks after the April 21 rollout, Google hopes to apply the algorithm to web pages in all languages, not just English.

“Do not focus on chasing the algorithm,” advised Google in the mid-March 2015 Hangout conference, thus helping to calm the sizzle about “mobilegeddon.” Although mobile traffic does account for the lion’s share of online activity, conversion rates and e-commerce usage is still highest on desktops.

With that said, Google expects its mobile users to be kept happy – and that is now in our hands.

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