After weeks of build up Google’s ‘mobile-friendly’ update has starting rolling out. April 21st was the date hammered home by the search provider and – despite a slow start – reports are starting to emerge of sites falling down the mobile results page.
Google warned us it would be a gradual rollout, taking up to a couple of weeks to see the full effect, and this certainly looks like the case so far. In fact, some sources even question whether Google rolled out the update at all, but data is slowly starting to show a change in mobile SERPs.
How Far Will Google’s Mobile Update Go?
One of the biggest questions on the minds of marketers and business owners everywhere will be how big an impact this update will have. Google has told us its mobile algo will hit more sites than both Panda and Penguin, but you can’t take anything the search giant tells you at face value.
Once thing we can be sure of is Google is serious about mobile, but how much emphasis it can put on optimisation remains to be seen. It doesn’t make much sense to give mobile more weight as a ranking factor than the content on any given page – after all, who cares how good UX is if the content sucks?
As Google says itself: “The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal — so even if a page with high quality content is not mobile-friendly, it could still rank high if it has great content for the query.” While it’s also worth asking how much impact the update can have when 70% of mobile results on page one were already ‘mobile-friendly’ before April 21st.
Algorithm Update: The Scariest Words In Marketing
Google has made a huge success of scaring marketers and brands into jumping through hoops and algorithm updates are its most fearsome weapon. You will have seen plenty of this over the last few weeks as talk of ‘Mobilegeddon’ spread from industry publications to the mainstream news.
We haven’t seen this kind of hysteria surrounding a Google update for a while now, but don’t think for a second this was an accident. This is the most publicised algorithm tweak in search history and Google planted all these seeds in the media itself.
The search giant now tells us there are 4.7% more mobile-friendly websites than two months ago and this number has probably risen since the announcement – something you can expect to continue. Which proves the search giant doesn’t even need to touch its algorithm to initiate change; all it needs to do is talk about it and Google has been uncharacteristically vocal in the build up to April 21st.
What We Know So Far
Sadly, we can still only speculate how much of an impact this update will have and it could be weeks before we have enough data to get a clear picture. So far we’ve seen very little change, but there are some cases of drops starting to crop up across the web. We can only assume more (and perhaps more drastic) examples will surface in the coming weeks, unless Google has overhyped its own update – something website owners who have paid for mobile redesigns will be hoping isn’t the case.