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Google Officially Talks About the Mobile-Friendly Algorithm

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Google Team discusses the latest Mobile-Friendly Algorithm that will be presented on 21st of April in a 4-weeek series. Official Google representatives will be giving essential information and answer all questions you may have about the upcoming mobile-friendly algorithm update. 

Below you will find an extract of some of the most important questions covered in the first video of the series as well as the whole video.

Stay tuned in the upcoming weeks for more valuable information and tips on how to survive the so-called “Mobilegeddon”! Go Live UK is also about to announce an amazing upgrade that will safe your non-mobile website from drops in mobile rankings and traffic after 21st of April! 

Q&As Transcript

Q: You are asking us about the mobile ranking changes that will take place on the 21st of April. And the question is pretty much about will the ranking changes only affect my website for mobile searchers or also for desktop searches? 

A: So the answer to that is only for mobile searches. So don't be afraid. On the 21st of April, there will only be an update taking place for your search results in mobile, which means that desktop will stay the same as it's working right now. 

This does definitely mean, though, that you should pay attention to the mobile search results, as this is something that people are using more and more. And yeah, you should stay ahead of the game and make sure that you are already providing a good mobile-friendly user experience before the changes come into play.

Q:  Regarding the first ranking update that will affect mobile-friendly websites—will it affect just based on the fact that it passes the tests of the Mobile-Friendly Test? So websites that pass the test will get the benefit. Websites that don't won't? Or is it affecting, to various degrees, based on how mobile-friendly the website is-- for example, for websites that manage to complete 95% of the test or something like that, or the mobile usability features that are including the Page Speed Insights? Is it a varying degree? Or is it just black and white-- you pass the test, you get the benefit, or you don't?

A: So at the moment, it is a binary decision in the sense that if you are awarded the mobile-friendly badge, it means that you pass the test, which means that we consider you mobile friendly. And it's based on a couple of the requirements that we mentioned. And that if you don't pass the test, we highlight and help you sort out. So at the moment, it's not gray. And there's not various degrees of how much you can benefit from this ranking factor.

It's really do we consider you to have the minimum requirements to provide a good experience to your users on a mobile. If yes, you're going to benefit from this signal, as opposed to websites that don't have this minimum, don't pass this minimum requirement.

So, so far it's very binary. Obviously, Google, as I said, is always trying to improve the way we understand the web and all the content and all the resources that are available for the users that search on Google. But as a first step, we figured that it would be important to evangelize and to promote a mobile approach.

And so far, it's very binary.

Q: Whether to go for responsive design or a mobile website?

A: Well, quickly to mention on that, this is totally dependent on the type of business you have. So you should be looking at your desktop website and think about, do I want all the features that are present here also to be present on mobile? Or do I think that on the mobile site, I only need a couple of things from these things that people can actually do on my website on desktop?

So when you think the same website that is seen on desktop can also actually be used for mobile-- in that case, you might go for responsive design and make sure that the content of your website moves along with the screen size. So when a smaller screen size is used to access your website, people will still be able to read everything without having to zoom or navigate through the page with their fingers.

But when you are actually deciding that you're making a separate mobile website, because you just want to have a different version of what you're offering on mobile, then you should indeed decide to create an entire new mobile website, which will provide your users with a smaller version of your desktop site.

And we do not encourage one of these as to be better for the search results. Because we, again, want to reinforce-- make your website as useful for users. And if you're doing that, Google will be happy as well.

Q: I have a separate M-Dot site that is mobile friendly and a desktop version. Is it normal, in the desktop version, in Webmaster Tools, to see mobile usability issues even though I have a separate mobile site?

Google Search Team: Did you register your M-Dot site on Google Webmaster Tools?

Audience: I haven't yet, no.

Google Search Team: OK.

A: So what I can advise you is to do that and to follow and to see what mobile usability issues you would have on your M-Dot site, which is the one that you're using to target your mobile users. And to make sure that we are understanding which website to show at each case, you should also do the right redirects regarding the viewport, so Google understands that if a user is searching in a specific device that we consider should have-- is a mobile smartphone-- then we're going to show the M version. And if the user access is from a desktop or from a screen with a width that's higher than what we consider necessary to be mobile friendly, then we're going to show the other one.

And if you do these two redirects, and if you register your M-Dot site on Webmaster Tools, then whatever mobile visibility issues you find on your non-M-Dot site, you can disregard it, because you're going to be following the M-Dot advice that we give you.

Q: Obviously, I can't fit all of the content that's on my desktop on the mobile. There's not enough space for all the keywords. So let's say there's a long tail keyword on the desktop version that doesn't show up on the mobile version. Does Google use the keywords that show up on the desktop version to rank the mobile? So for example, if I have the word "rhinoceros" on my desktop, but I couldn't fit it on my mobile because I couldn't fit it all on there, will I show up for the word "rhinoceros" on mobile searches?

A: So if that keyword is not going to be present on the content that you would show up to your users on mobile, then we're going to take that into consideration. And I think that's pretty clear. Because if I'm searching for rhinoceros on my mobile and your site comes up, but when I access your website, the page that you're showing me does not have any information on a rhinoceros, then it's not really providing me the experience and the contents that I'm looking for.


Q: And what if the content on the mobile is contracted down in expandable divs, but on the desktop it's all expanded? Does that have an effect?

A: So if the content is there and is accessible to the user, even though it might be shortened and just hidden, and they're like dropdown menus or dropdown content, then if you're showing that content to the user, then it's OK.

The problem is if you hide that content from the users but don't hide it from Google, then you're getting very close to what we consider to be a cloaking practice, which falls out of our guidelines. So if the content is there and it's there in a way that the users will access and will have a good experience, then sure. We are going to still consider it. If the content is there when Google looks at the page, and we don't identify you as cloaking but actually just providing a good experience to the user, then you're perfectly fine.

Q: And is it based on a page-by-page basis, or does it take into effect the whole domain, the whole website?

A: So we are going to evaluate your website in general. And if we find specific mobile visibility issues with any or all of the pages, we are going to let you know-- on Webmaster Tools, you have a tool, a tab, which is mobile usability issues. And there we're going to go and discriminate by each page, for each page, what are the issues that we find and how can you solve them. 

Q: So if I just update the new page and, by mistake, I add a banner that might exclude the mobile-friendly tag for just that page, will that page have to suffer-- I mean, not get the benefit from the ranking signal? Would the whole website be affected by this, or just that single page, or not at all?

A: No, if you have one, specific page that we would be showing on the search results that is clearly not providing a good experience, made before that banner or not, we will identify that one page as having that issue. But if your whole website—if the main page of your domain and if the other pages are good, they're not going to suffer by consequence.

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