Google Will Dial Up Their Mobile-Friendly Ranking Signal

Today Google announced that in May they will roll out an update that will increase the effect of their mobile-friendly ranking signal.

Here’s an excerpt from Google’s announcement:

You should get the best answer possible, whether you’re on a phone, desktop or tablet. Last year, we started using mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal on mobile searches. Today we’re announcing that beginning in May, we’ll start rolling out an update to mobile search results that increases the effect of the ranking signal to help our users find even more pages that are relevant and mobile-friendly.

According to Google, if your site is already mobile-friendly, then you shouldn’t expect much of an impact. Google isn’t adding a new ranking signal. Instead they are turning up the dial on an existing ranking signal to place more emphasis on the mobile user experience.

Here are a few things to keep in mind about this update:

  • This is expected to be a global mobile update, so most (if not all) languages and search queries will be effected.
  • This update will only impact searches from smartphone devices – not tablets or desktops.
  • There will be no site wide impact – instead it will be on a page-by-page basis.
  • The update is baked into Google’s core ranking algorithm, so changes will take effect after Googlebot has the chance to crawl the site.

Here are some tips for making your site mobile-friendly:

  • Try to avoid blocking elements such as Javascript, CSS, and image files
  • Never use app interstitials on mobile
  • Avoid irrelevant cross links
  • Avoid faulty redirects
  • Set your viewport correctly
  • Make sure all media content is playable on mobile devices
  • Avoid using small, hard-to-read fonts
  • Make sure that touch/tap elements are far enough apart so that users don’t accidentally click neighboring elements

If you haven’t already taken the steps to ensure that your site is mobile-friendly, I would recommend making any necessary changes before the end of April, before the update rolls out. You can refer to Google’s Webmaster Mobile Guide to learn more about the specific ranking factors, and mobile-friendly criteria. You can also use Google’s Mobile Friendly testing tool to see which elements need to be address to improve your site’s mobile experience. If you have any questions, drop me a comment below, or check out Google’s Webmaster Help Forum.

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