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Google mobile algo to be bigger than Panda / Penguin as deadline looms

     
8:54 am on Mar 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Gary Illyes retweeted
Aleyda Solis @aleyda Mar 17
Zineb from Google at #smx Munich about the mobile ranking update: is going to have a bigger effect than penguin and panda! [twitter.com...] .
In case you know someone who hasn't heard, you might want to forewarn them of the impending intensity of this.

I wonder if the algorithm will allow a quicker reprieve for those that go under, but are mobile friendly afterwards, or, if it makes those who are putting in late changes more vulnerable, as the algorithm might be baking already, as the deadline looms.

Anyone you know not heard / caring ; other thoughts ?
11:29 am on Mar 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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From the original tweet it was not clear if this will impact mobile SERPs only or desktop SERPs too, but Zineb of Google subsequently clarified that desktop SERPs will not be impacted.
11:53 am on Mar 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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As we have all suspected, this update will most likely affect "All" mobile queries. The impact will probably be huge.
12:14 pm on Mar 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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For the record, this was originally posted in this thread [webmasterworld.com...]
We felt it worth breaking out the discussion.

If this is for mobile serps, i'm sure it is going to be of great impact to those not ready now, or not ready in time.

Don't panic, because if your mobile site is under development it should get reindexed when ready. Of course, you may decide that mobile traffic is of little value to your particular service, for all kinds of reasons, and won't be changing the site.

Certainly, you should know what might happen to your pages depending upon the flag it's given in the mobile serps. You have been forewarned.
12:18 pm on Mar 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I'm usually more worried about the stuff they *don't* announce while they're distracting us with the stuff they do announce.
12:40 pm on Mar 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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while they're distracting us with the stuff they do announce.


Great point, I agree. I see this mobile update as mostly PR. In my opinion the organic results for anyone in a niche that is mobile dependent don't mean much, if your niche is mobile dependent you probably have an app. I feel like this is just an attempt by google to be relevant in mobile.
12:43 pm on Mar 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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AND, IMHO, "mobile" is very 2012, for goodness sake, my iPhone 6 plus screen is almost as big as my laptop screen...
1:10 pm on Mar 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I see this mobile update as mostly PR. In my opinion the organic results for anyone in a niche that is mobile dependent don't mean much, if your niche is mobile dependent you probably have an app.


On the other hand, if your niche is mobile-dependent, you probably don't want to write off searchers who aren't interested in downloading your app.

AND, IMHO, "mobile" is very 2012, for goodness sake, my iPhone 6 plus screen is almost as big as my laptop screen...


"Mobile-friendly" certainly is a moving target. I wonder how many of the pre-smartphone mobile sites that companies and organizations were rushing to create a few years ago are still around? (Ditto for native apps that were designed for first- and second-generation iPhones.)
1:20 pm on Mar 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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you probably don't want to write off searchers who aren't interested in downloading your app.


You probably know more than I on this front EG, I don't know much about apps. Can a searcher find an iPhone app from the Apple store with a google search? Or would that app developer need to create a separate webpage for the app to be found in google? A "doorway" page I guess that would be then...
2:40 pm on Mar 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Can a searcher find an iPhone app from the Apple store with a google search


Just did a check for my local TV station's weather app, and sure enough, there it is. Complete with ratings, price, rich snippets.

[imgur.com...]
2:46 pm on Mar 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Nice Netmeg!

So, if one has an app, no real need to worry about this mobile update right?
2:46 pm on Mar 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I wonder how many of the pre-smartphone mobile sites that companies and organizations were rushing to create a few years ago are still around?


Mine, which were all on .mobi, were removed a couple of years ago...they were horrible sites to work with.
2:50 pm on Mar 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I hope Google's mobile algorithm will be able to distinguish between legitimate apps and apps created by spammers.
1:24 am on Mar 20, 2015 (gmt 0)

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The webmaster warning about mobile said it may affect your smartphone ranking, but did not say anything about tablets. Tablets can render desktop sites very well, so will they be affected by this algorithm? Or just smartphones that have lower screens and lower resolution?
2:35 am on Mar 20, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Here's what the Google Developers Mobile Guide has to say about tablets:

[developers.google.com...]

Mobile: In this document, “mobile” or “mobile devices” refers to smartphones...[snip]

Tablets: We consider tablets as devices in their own class, so when we speak of mobile devices, we generally do not include tablets in the definition.
3:21 am on Mar 20, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I think it is a huge mistake for web sites that have significant mobile customers to "write-off" their website and try to steer all mobile traffic to their apps. Doing so is a wonderful way to lose customers and web site traffic. I have enough apps as it is....I don't need or want an app for every Tom, Dick and Harry business or website in existence on my phone or tablet.

Google has been quite clear that this update is only for smartphones and only effects "pages", not "sites." So that's good for everyone who's nowhere near completed converting their site over to a responsive design (such as me).

One thing I'm very curious about...what is the "cut off" in viewport size for a search to be classified as "mobile" by Google. As a poster said earlier, many larger smartphone almost have "tablet sized" resolution. Will Google use the viewport size? Or will they instead ignore viewport and try to detect the device being used instead?

Late April is going to be interesting, to say the least. Going to be a heck of a lot of changes, I suspect - some good, some not so good. I can see a lot of big company websites working their way down the SERP listings, while other no-name websites that are mobile-friendly leap above them. Much will depend on how big the "penalty" is for non-mobile pages that Google applies.
5:17 am on Mar 20, 2015 (gmt 0)

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All my sites have had responsive templates for quite sometime except one. In a way I am thankful, when I first read the announcement from Google it gave me the incentive to finally finish the responsive template set for it.

I finished and launched it about 30 minutes ago.
6:14 am on Mar 20, 2015 (gmt 0)

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my iPhone 6 plus screen is almost as big as my laptop screen...


My website that is "not mobile friendly" according to Google looks great on a smartphone and gets lots of page views and mobile return visitors. I did a test with a version of my website that is "mobile friendly" according to Google and it looks awful compared to what it used to be.

Are we designing our websites for the Google Mobile Test or for our users? I'm sure that user experience (return visitors, pages per visit, time on site, ...) is also a ranking factor in Google's mobile algo and we might have to keep in mind that switching to "mobile friendly" might have no impact at all or in the worst case have a negative effect.
7:47 am on Mar 20, 2015 (gmt 0)

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^^^

What about it did it say wasn't mobile friendly? Because nothing about their guidelines is about looking good or bad, its about usability.

Elements being spaced far enough apart, loading fast on slower networks, everything fitting without horizontal scrolling, easy navigation, etc.

[developers.google.com...]
8:47 am on Mar 20, 2015 (gmt 0)

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@motorheaven - depending on the page these guidelines can be next to impossible to complete. On some of our page templates we had to cut several elements out in order to fit in to Google`s view of usability.

What I am looking forward with the mobile friendliness update though is the weight of the brand bias. I think too many people are focused on their websites and not on the perfect opportunity to gauge how will Google rank the whitelisted and brand biased websites.
8:54 am on Mar 20, 2015 (gmt 0)

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AND, IMHO, "mobile" is very 2012, for goodness sake, my iPhone 6 plus screen is almost as big as my laptop screen...


Yes but, still mobile users prefer seeing less distracting/noisy websites. Somewhat cleaner and much easy to navigate websites.

I guess Google has already started testing this algorithm in one way or another.
9:08 am on Mar 20, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I'm wondering if Zineb second name is Nostradamus...

There is plenty of time until April 21st. A lot of sites already made changes or will make changes bedore the deadline. (I guess even WW will roll out a new design. And I'm working on 60 million pages.)

Therefore, saying anything about the effect is speculation.
9:18 am on Mar 20, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Webmasterworld resizes great on mobile right now. :) Some of the touch elements are mighty close but that's relatively easy to correct.
9:54 am on Mar 20, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Yes but, still mobile users prefer seeing less distracting/noisy websites.


I am a mobile user and if I visit a site that automatically sends me to a "mobile version", the very first thing I do is scroll down to find the "view full site" button. Doubt that I'm the only one that does this. I have very little use for watered down mobile versions, especially over the last couple of years with the screen sizes of phones getting bigger.
10:26 am on Mar 20, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I'm sitting this one out until after Google launches.

In theory, my client's sites should take a hit of 13% loses at the low end to 33.8% loses at the high end... that's assuming tablets are also mobile devices where if they are not (according to Analytics they are not) that knocks 5-12% percentage points off... but taking any action is advance of the algorithm launch means you can't compare the before and after.

Knowing that difference is invaluable to providing SEO services.

I learned with PENGUIN having a network (that was given to me) that took a hit advanced my knowledge of how PENGUIN 1.0 worked beyond what you could tell from a single website. Every single site recovered on the first refresh but none were getting unnatural links they were all offering unnatural links.

That tidbit you would never know unless you were in fact building link schemes.

In theory, you could simply make matters worse by jumping the gun without knowing precisely what the gun does.
10:42 am on Mar 20, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I guess even WW will roll out a new design.


It has:

[webmasterworld.com...]
3:41 pm on Mar 20, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Rethemed all of my sites in bootstrap 3 a few months ago and also implemented SSL. Glad I got ahead of this.

I am a mobile user and if I visit a site that automatically sends me to a "mobile version", the very first thing I do is scroll down to find the "view full site" button. Doubt that I'm the only one that does this. I have very little use for watered down mobile versions, especially over the last couple of years with the screen sizes of phones getting bigger.


I still think if you have the urge to do this then the sites has failed on their mobile implementation. When I'm on Amazon I don't need to use the full site, they have the mobile site properly designed where you get the same information and features as the full site just easier to use.
4:45 pm on Mar 20, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I still think if you have the urge to do this then the sites has failed on their mobile implementation. When I'm on Amazon I don't need to use the full site, they have the mobile site properly designed where you get the same information and features as the full site just easier to use.


Not necessarily. Personal taste matters, and it may trump "mobile optimization" (responsive menus and the like) on larger-screen phones. In terms of the user experience, newer, larger smartphones have more in common with small tablets than they do with older, smaller phones such as the iPhone 4.

Page layout comes into play, too. For some people, a visually busy multi-column page with small text, such as the front page of NYTimes.com, can be hard to read and navigate on a small laptop (never mind a smartphone). In contrast, a simple two-column blog may be perfectly easy to read and navigate on a modern handheld device like a Nexus 5 in portrait view or even an iPhone 5 in landscape view. When that's the case, mobile-design conventions (such as collapsing menus) may be annoying to some users.
9:24 pm on Mar 20, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I'm generally happy sitting back watching seo stuff, since mostly it has no impact of importance on us, but lately I've been examining the monstrosity of 'responsive mobile first design' (equal in my opinion in vileness to the old flash based websites as fads go), with a major update of a client's site in mind.

Unless I'm missing something, css based pixel view screen tests have now grown totally and utterly useless because of the very high pixel densities of mobile screens.

I'm concluding that responsive design (sic) is terrible design for desktop user, who in my opinion are serious users, but for people who surf now and then on mobile, it makes good sense to serve a fully crippled version of our site to them.

To my eyes, again, unless I'm missing something really fundamental with css and resolution based tests, resolution based tests are unfortunately now almost totally useless, when what actually matters is only physical screen inches, nothing else, and I believe that data is not available to css.

My personal conclusion is that we are now firmly back in the world of server side browser detection, and that's the direction I'm planning. There is no desktop in my opinion that benefits in any positive way from responsive design, basic usability tells us that there is a max width the human brain responds to, over that max, and it overloads, so all layouts need max widths no matter what, and since no desktop has less than 1024 pixel width, I can see absolutely no reason why I would use responsive css for desktops as a rule.

However, I am seeing a good argument for responsive on mobile (possibly excluding tablets, which are really just smaller laptops with good screens). This is why google is pointing to mobile meaning phones with screens below a certain physical dimension, but, again, because pixel resolutions are getting incredibly high, all the css tests are frankly largely useless, which is why 'responsive' layouts tend towards being absurdly information poor, super inefficient in terms of good use of screen real estate.

This was brought to my pained attention when my long time favorite site (sports related) switched recently to responsive layouts, which now on the desktop have cut down the information presented by about 10x I would estimate per screen / scroll. I know that when I look at my surfing on that site, because it's now a royal PIA to access all the day's news, my average session has dropped from 5 to 10 articles per visit to 1, max 2, per visit. Because it's almost impossible to access information because each item is now > 10x larger than it used to be, that is, exclusivly to cater to the crippled touch interfaces of mobile screens. That to me is suicide for catering to desktop users, so we're certainly not going to lose our desktop base which is most of our users to placate google via some overarching responsive single file type css 'solution'.

I find the entire thing sort of pathetic, a terrible usaer experience being pushed by google, who have the audacity to tell us via their mobile information to 'build for mobile first', which means, totally scr@w your desktop serious users. I view this as yet another idiotic internet fad, almost in my opinion equivalent to the old fad of all flash driven sites, done for the same bad reasons, so the question is, how do we deal with google and also support mobile users, who we want, even if they are minority.

I'm not asking how to deal with it, it's more a rhetorical comment, but I'm starting to suspect to be honest that google is NOT limiting this algo to only mobile, I'm beginning, based on some changes we've seen this week, that they are in fact already penalizing sites that fail to follow google's absurd and frankly juvenile ideas about how to present data to end users. I'm seeing site after site ruining their desktop user experience totally, by those idiotic big clunky things that work for crippled mobile touch interfaces, but which are a massive waste of screen real estate for any non crippled web access system, like a desktop with a keyboard and mouse.

Because of my suspicion that google is in fact already applying some of this algorithm, we have to deal with this soon, but I'm wondering what google internally is looking for in terms of signals on page, for example, there's no way I'm going to ruin a really good website that is desktop focused by trying to cater to largely useless mobile traffic, not fully useless since I'm sure some of our users will access it while commuting to check some data we offer, that's totally something we should support, but only in my opinion via browser detection delivering core layout css depending on device type, but I suspect that google, being juvenile idiots, will be trying to enforce the retarded all responsive all the time nonsense that is an insult to our user's intelligence.

To be technically clear, because barring super basic pixel width based tests, like <> 800 pixels (ie, the width of an upright iphone or similar size screen), really pixel based css triggers are not going to solve any problems, basically you have to go with percent based containers, which is easy technically, but only works on mobile, plus on/off switches for various site features that don't work on mobile, in other words, dekstop first, then tweak for mobiles via server side browser detection only, which means, only serve phones the custom percent width based css, otherwise serve desktop widths, possibly also some tablet modifications, but detecting tablets is a serious PIA because of phablets etc, and cheap small screen tablets, etc, again, because of increasing pixel densities (soon to be, if not already, at 600 pixels per inch, about the limit i believe of human vision more or less), but since you have no real way of knowing the screen resolution of a mobile device, basically you default to the super dumbed down one size fits all type 'solution', which basically means usable on the smallest screen, clunky on the biggest phone screen. This is what I see sites doing more and more, so I assume that's the only way to actually try to realistically deal with primary container sizing.

[edited by: lizardx at 9:48 pm (utc) on Mar 20, 2015]

9:31 pm on Mar 20, 2015 (gmt 0)

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The last couple of days I have been getting notices from Webmaster Tools that sites have "mobile usability issues". Problem is that most of the issues are because of the Google Adsense ads I am running on sites since nothing can be bigger than the screen resolution of an old smartphone in portrait orientation- 320 pixels wide. In landscape mode all is wonderful but that is not considered by Google.

Meanwhile Adsense is quite happy with the sites giving them 4 out of 5 for multi screen compatibility.

I am tweaking what I can but really there is nothing I can to that will please their mobile algo, my users, and me.
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