Google recently announced that on April 21st 2015, their search algorithm will consider mobile-friendliness as an organic ranking factor. This update to the ever-changing algorithm will affect mobile searches in all languages, leaving desktop and tablet searches alone.
According to Google’s Gary Illyes, the algorithm will be constantly running in “real-time”. This means that as soon as the pages in question are optimized and crawled, Google will label the content as mobile-friendly. The algorithm will evaluate on a page-by-page basis, rather than sitewide. So if you only have the resources to make a certain number of pages mobile-friendly, make sure they count. Illyes also mentioned that this mobile boost in rankings will be a stronger signal than their August update for HTTPS as a ranking signal.
So what should you do to find out if you’ll be affected?
1. Find out where you stand.
In the announcement, Google provides links to several in-house tools to check for mobile-friendliness. If you’re worried about just one page, you can analyze it through their mobile-friendly test. To analyze your entire site, you can dive into your Google Webmaster Tools (GWMT) profile and find out how you did under the mobile usability tab.
2. Fix your site.
Received a failing grade? Google’s got you covered there too. Their own webmaster’s mobile guide will walk you through setting up your site to be mobile-friendly, along with SEO best practices for making sure your site is discoverable. They provide a comprehensive list of CMS’s your site could be built on, and walk you through how to make it work.
3. Identify new mobile search opportunities in the process.
While retooling your site, we recommend reviewing where you stand competitively. Tools like SEMRush can tell you how and which of your competitors rank. Cross-reference this data with your own top mobile search queries report from GWMT to inform your organic mobile search strategy. You might just find some new high value keywords hiding in all that data.
So get optimizing! And like always, get in touch if you’d like some pointers.