On April 21, Google will begin rolling out a new index for mobile search results. The change will affect searches in all languages worldwide and will roll out over a period of seven to ten days.
The index will not affect desktop or tablet searches, however its impact on mobile, according to Google, will be ‘significant.’
As part of this rollout, Google will be expanding the use of ‘mobile-friendliness’ as a ranking signal.
What does ‘mobile friendliness’ mean?
If you don’t have a mobile friendly website, you may see a decline in mobile search referrals from Google. With the continued proliferation of mobile phone usage, it’s time to get serious about a mobile website.
If you do have a mobile website, you want to make sure it meets Google’s ‘mobile friendly’ standards. You can test your site for mobile friendliness here. If you have a mobile site, you should also use your Webmaster Tools account to find detailed ways to improve mobile usability that will also be a factor in Google’s upcoming mobile index change.
Be Certain Google Knows Your Mobile Site
Google has long touted the use of responsive design websites largely because they maintain URLs across devices and provide the same content to users regardless of device being used. Responsive design requires less work for both Google and your developers.
Most adaptive design websites share URLs as well, and this will also be an advantage in Google’s new mobile search index.
If you have a mobile site that uses a different URL structure, for example ‘m.yourwebsite.com,’ you may have a little more work to do. Because ‘m.’ sites use different domains between desktop and mobile devices, Google recommends that you use annotations on the two sites to help them discover and understand your mobile pages form your desktop pages. On the desktop pages Google recommends a rel=”alternate” tag to define its mobile counterpart. And on your mobile pages, you need to add a rel=”canonical” tag pointing to the corresponding desktop URL.
Google also announced that it will be using more information from indexed apps as a ranking factor for signed-in users who have the app installed. Google has provided a step-by-step guide explaining how to have content from your App indexed by Google. You can visit that site here.
For more information about Google’s upcoming mobile index change or for assistance in improving your mobile website and experience, contact Gamma Partners today.