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Google to Roll Out Mobile SERPs Update, in May, Increasing Mobile Ranking Signal

     
2:30 pm on May 12, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Google has said it'll be rolling out an update in May to the mobile SERPs to give mobile friendly sites greater weighting in mobile SERPs.
If you haven't got a mobile-friendly site you could see your mobile rankings decline.

If you've already made your site mobile-friendly, you will not be impacted by this update. Google to Roll Out Mobile SERPs Update, in May, Increasing Mobile Ranking Signal [webmasters.googleblog.com]
And remember, the intent of the search query is still a very strong signal so even if a page with high quality content is not mobile-friendly, it could still rank well if it has great, relevant content.
8:34 pm on May 12, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Maybe the intention is good but the problem is that there are so many sites out there which are not mobile-friendly but have satisfied G's criteria to be classified as such that it's almost pointless at the moment.

Until they work out a way to gauge more accurately how mobile friendly a site is, it's all a bit meaningless.
9:26 pm on May 12, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Until they work out a way to gauge more accurately how mobile friendly a site is, it's all a bit meaningless.

Maybe they have, since it's a new update.

BTW, one quibble with the OP: Unless I'm mistaken (and unless Google has misrepresented its intentions): The update will be about promoting mobile-friendly pages, as opposed to mobile-friendlysites. So, if you've got a lot of legacy content that doesn't lend itself to a quick "mobile-friendly" makeover (or if some of your pages don't get enough traffic to be worth a mobile facelift), you can focus on creating mobile-friendly versions of the pages that you do care about promoting to mobile users and leave the rest alone.
2:39 am on May 13, 2016 (gmt 0)

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If you haven't got a mobile-friendly site you could see your mobile rankings decline.
If you've already made your site mobile-friendly, you will not be impacted by this update.
If the 1st statement is true, wouldn't the 2nd statement be false? If non-mobile-friendly pages lose rank, wouldn't that effectively boost mobile-friendly pages?
8:17 am on May 13, 2016 (gmt 0)

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A bit of hair splitting on pages/sites, imho.
Google refers to a mobile-friendly sites. In any case, it would be sensible to create a mobile-friendly site, rather than just a few mobile-friendly pages.
8:42 am on May 13, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Google did not pickup all my mobile oages yet. And it is over 1 year online now. How many sitevwill get hit, while google makes so big mistakes?

Other mobile pages show up in WMT that they have to small fonts aso. I fixed it long ago. Goigles own mobil tool rates this pages as perfect mobile pages.

Long way to go for google.
10:36 am on May 13, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Martin Ice Web I noticed the small font issue, too. It was fixed a while back, and the pages have been re-crawled.
I wonder if this mobile update will shake some of that up.
11:06 am on May 13, 2016 (gmt 0)

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If the 1st statement is true, wouldn't the 2nd statement be false?


Strictly, yes (and I had the same reaction when I saw it), but I think "impacted" is used here to mean "negatively affected" rather than simple "affected".
1:31 pm on May 13, 2016 (gmt 0)

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If the 1st statement is true, wouldn't the 2nd statement be false?

Yes, if the bulk of your competitors do not have mobile sites. In practice, most sites are now mobile friendly. A single non-mobile site in the serp will have a limited impact. That is, it falling back in the rankings and all the mobile-sites moving up marginally but in step.
2:49 pm on May 13, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Google refers to a mobile-friendly sites. In any case, it would be sensible to create a mobile-friendly site, rather than just a few mobile-friendly pages.

Google also makes it clear that rankings are for mobile-friendly pages. And that "hair-splitting" matters if your site has thousands of pages of static legacy content (as our main information site does) and you need to allocate your time most productively.
2:52 pm on May 13, 2016 (gmt 0)

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This still only affects queries that are entered on mobile devices though doesn't it? It won't affect desktop search or will it now?
3:02 pm on May 13, 2016 (gmt 0)

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There is going to be a percentage who are not onboard with mobile and that should at the very least mean some type of positive on my end.
3:26 pm on May 13, 2016 (gmt 0)

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@Jez123 directly it should have no impact on desktop searches. But indirectly I would image that it will have a negative impact. That is, if you haven't updated your site in ten years, that probably wont help your desktop rankings, and if you do update your site I think it would be crazy not to make it responsive. Secondly, a subset of users may find sites on their mobile devices and then return later on desktop. If they don't find you on mobile, they can't return.

@EditorialGuy, what you describe makes sense to me, focus on the pages that get the most traffic and work back from there.

@MrSavage I wouldn't expect a huge ranking boost, but some positive may come of it.
3:46 pm on May 13, 2016 (gmt 0)

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if you do update your site I think it would be crazy not to make it responsive.

That's one approach, but another is to have dedicated mobile pages. That's the approach we use for our main site, because it allows us to optimize content for the mobile reader without compromising the desktop experience.

(And by "optimize content," I mean more than reformatting. On a travel site, for example, a reader may be in "planning and research mode" while on a desktop but in "real-time doing mode" while on a mobile device. If you can optimize content with the anticipated use in mind, you've got a competitive edge over site owners who just dump the same content onto different devices in different formats.)
5:38 pm on May 13, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I have played with mobile and non-mobile set-ups. I am currently working with a non-mobile friendly set-up, because of how many more ad clicks (1st party ads) I can get with a non-mobile layout from mobile users versus a mobile friendly layout (I tried).

Part of this is because it is hard to present ads to mobile users in a non-intrusive way in a mobile layout. The other part is that I need to learn more about my mobile ad layout options.

For now I will stay non-mobile as advertisers pay my bills not Google. I am however keeping a close eye on my mobile traffic.
6:23 pm on May 13, 2016 (gmt 0)

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@engine, but google seems very slow in picking up changes. Will say pages that allready have been fixed will get a penalty with no reason.
On the other hand i still see big brands with no mobile pages rank very well.
8:07 am on May 14, 2016 (gmt 0)

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If you can optimize content with the anticipated use in mind, you've got a competitive edge over site owners who just dump the same content onto different devices in different formats.


I think your example of how desktop and mobile users can have different intent is a good one. However, I also think it is important that users - rather than a prediction based on the device they are using - can decide for themselves what they are looking for.

All content needs to be useful to someone (any content that isn't will just end up with 100% bounce rate), so by all means have pages that address different needs within your sector. However, I wouldn't describe formatting them so that users of any device can easily access all of them as dumping the content.
9:42 am on May 14, 2016 (gmt 0)

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They should do it the other way as well: rank desktop friendly sites higher on desktop serps

I see a lot of responsive sites these days that have obviously been tailor made for mobile, with huge fonts and huge pictures and acres of white space all over the place, and they look daft on big monitors.
3:07 pm on May 14, 2016 (gmt 0)

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On the other hand i still see big brands with no mobile pages rank very well.

Which means that being "mobile-friendly" gives a weighting in the SERPS rather than being a filter. It all depends on how much that weighting is. It takes some very basic arithmetic to see that relevant content could still beat being "mobile-friendly" with content that G deems less relevant and as a user that is what I would want.
7:01 pm on May 14, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I see a lot of responsive sites these days that have obviously been tailor made for mobile, with huge fonts and huge pictures and acres of white space all over the place, and they look daft on big monitors.

Yes, and often the content is written and edited with "mobile first" in mind, too--which tends to mean "short and shallow for people who don't like to read." That's fine if the publishers have thought long and hard about what they're doing, but all too often, they're probably the same publishers who jump on the "mobile first" bandwagon without thinking and then complain that their desktop traffic and ad or affiliate revenues are drying up.