Mobilegeddon: What to Expect From Google’s April 21st Update

When it comes to algorithm updates, digital marketers across the globe are used to being surprised by Google.
The search engine usually releases its major updates with little or no prior notice. Not this time. [more]
This time, we know that there’s a major algorithm update coming. Google’s new change – known by some as ‘mobilegeddon’ – will affect mobile search results in a big way. And it lands on April 21st.
From April 21st, and in the ensuing days, Google will afford greater visibility to the sites that offer the best mobile experience.
There’s no way of yet knowing how many websites will be affected by the algorithm. But Google’s assertion that it will have a “significant impact” on search results should show that this will be a wide-ranging update. What’s more, Zineb Ait Bahajji from Google’s Webmaster Trends team said that the update will have more of an impact on search results than both Panda and Penguin.

Apps will also get a huge boost from the update. After April 21st, users that are signed into specific Android apps will see that content from apps is more prominent in search results.

What will mobilegeddon discriminate against? 

To avoid falling foul of the new updates, don’t make any of the common mobile mistakes:
  • Unplayable videos – pages with Flash videos, or other formats that aren’t supported on mobile devices, will suffer diminished rankings
  • Blocking spiders from seeing content – your site’s robots.txt must present exactly the same information to search engine spiders as it does to mobile users
  • Incorrect redirects – pages that are redirected to mobile from desktop must go to the corresponding page
  • Mobile-only 404s – sites that show content to desktop users but display a 404 page to visitors on mobile will be adversely affected
  • Invasive app interstitials – web pages shouldn’t display huge interstitials that encourage users to view content on an app instead
  • Cross-platform links – sites shouldn’t have links that go from mobile pages to desktop pages and vice versa
  • Slow web pages – any pages that take too long to load will be demoted in search results

Is your site ready for mobilegeddon?

 
There are a number of ways to check whether your site is due to be hampered by the April update.
You can use Google Webmaster Tools’ Mobile Usability Report to ascertain any problems that you may have.

Google also has its own mobile-friendly test that allows you to see whether your site has any issues ahead of the algorithm change.

How are the big boys doing?

However, many household names could be affected come late April.

Daniel Bianchini researched mobile traffic for some of the most popular travel, fashion and eCommerce websites and found that some of the industry’s biggest names (from EasyJet and Thomas Cook to Next, John Lewis and RAC) were all failing Google’s guidelines in some form.

 

 
 

Happily, we passed.