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Question and Answer session recap for mobile friendly ranking change by Google

March 25, 2015
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In the age of technology today, everything nowadays is possible if you are operating through Mobile phones. Smart phones have made people smarter and have made them realize that with mobile phones today, anything is possible.

Google is coming up with another algorithm change targeted mainly towards Mobile users. 21st April 2015 will see Google’s new mobile-friendly ranking change. In an effort to give users a great mobile experience, Google has come up with this change which would enable identifying mobile friendly sites. A live question and answer session was conducted on G+ by the Google Webmasters who discussed the FAQs arising out of this ranking change which will be effective from 21st April. Below is the recap of the Questions and their Answers which were discussed during an hour long session conducted on 24th March.

1.  Why mobiles are so important? Why are we focusing on mobile friendliness?

Answer: Mobile usage is on rise. People are going mobile and many people have mobile device as the only device that they use to go online. Google is always trying to give users the results that they like and it turns out that users like it when they get a good experience of it on their device. Previously, Google had addressed issues like faulty redirects and unplayable content as ranking factors or badging or labeling and search results. Google is working on a new change which is more significant ranking change that uses mobile friendliness as a ranking factor and it will be coming out on April 21st .

2.  How do you know if your site is mobile friendly or not?

Answer: There are several ways to check.

• You can look at your website on the search results page on your phone and see if there is a grey ‘mobile friendly’ label in your description section.

If you see it then Google understands that your website is mobile friendly, if you don’t see it then it is not mobile friendly

mobile friendly label in SERPs

• You can do a mobile friendly test where you can go to and put in your page’s URL and see if Google understands whether your page is mobile friendly or not. If your website/webpage is not mobile friendly then it even tells you what exactly are the problems which are not making your site mobile friendly

• You can even get mobile usability reports on your website with the help of Google Webmasters tool.

3.  What are the specifics of the change?

Answer: The specifics of the change are:

• It will only affect mobile search results. It will not affect desktop search results

• Mobile friendly sites will be shown prominently in the search results at the top and the non friendly sites will be shown at the bottom

• It is going to be for all languages (not from 21st April but eventually all languages will be made available).

4.  Why when I run my site through the mobile friendly test, the screenshot looks a little different from what it looks on a phone to a real user?

Answer: When you run the mobile friendly test, it actually accesses the page as Googlebot. If you are blocking resources from Googlebot which are required to run the page so maybe if images, CSS or Java script files are blocked, then Google will not be able to see your page. The best thing to do in such circumstances is unblocking the resources because that is the only way through which Google knows whether your site is mobile friendly or not. In short Googlebot sees your website in a different way as compared to a real user.

5.  Regarding the case of ‘’ page that doesn't have a ‘’ desktop page, the FAQs page says that they won't rank very well because "they won't receive shared indexing signals from an existing desktop version". What are these shared signals?

Answer: Shared indexing signals are basically mobile developer’s guide. Let’s say you have a desktop version of a page ’’ and mobile version of the same as ‘’. If you have connected them properly then Google can consolidate some ranking signals like links. How it will benefit is, if the mobile version has 5 links to it and desktop version has 3 links to it and if Google knows that each of the URLs (mobile and desktop) are representing the same page then Google will take it as 8 links in whole to your page. It can potentially help you going up in rankings.

6.  What if instead of "", my mobile site of is ""? Provided that everything is set correctly (ie. rel="alternate",canonicals, sitemaps, etc) will it receive the ranking boost?

Answer: Yes, It is perfectly fine to set up your mobile site on a different domain. What Google asks you is to set up bi-directional annotations, so on your desktop page which you set up, put ‘rel=alternate tag and your mobile site put ‘rel=canonical’ tag properly so that Google understands it.

7.  What's the technical behavior of this new ranking factor? Is it an on/off switch? Something that fires, giving the same fixed amount of benefit, only when some requirements are fulfilled?

Answer: Google asks users to focus more on how to make a usable site rather than wondering over the specifics of how the algorithm works. Making your site more usable and including small feature like thumb zoom in and out will automatically help you up in rankings rather than worrying about the algorithm and how it works.

8.  Even if I'm using a well done responsive template, are there any factors that may label my site as not-mobile-friendly? (example: full screen interstitial ads, videos that play automatically below the fold, etc)

Answer: As per the Google’s mobile guidelines, Google recommends not to use full screen interstitial ads or auto play videos. It diminishes the good mobile friendly experience which you want the users to feel. Google has also included this point in the common mistakes section. But still if you insist on using the above things for mobile version of your website then the best you can do it try it with and see if it works in getting your site the label of mobile friendly.

9.  Does the "mobile-friendly" label tell me that I'm currently receiving the benefit or are those two things unrelated?

Answer: Both the things are related. If you have the mobile friendly label in search results then your site (on per page basis) will be considered as mobile friendly in Google’s ranking change. Google also emphasizes on creating high quality content for your website which is one of the major factors deciding the rankings for your website.

10.  Are desktop and mobile SERPs going to be identical after the update? (= the "mobile-friendly boost" will apply equally in both situations) If not, will mobile results still be significantly different?

Answer: The ranking change update is for mobile search results. Desktop and mobile SERPs will not be identical after the change. With this change more sites will be mobile friendly. The results for both the platforms will be different considering the content size and quality and mobile friendliness of the sites. Locations will matter after this change and the websites or links inclusive of locations will be more prominently displayed.

11.  You get a lot of questions, usually the same flavor and lots of repeats. My question is what questions we should be asking that alarm you and you should take notice of more than we do as webmasters. What should we be doing and not?

Answer: Do not focus on chasing the algorithm. You should spend more of your time on your business and in making a great site that users like. You should be thriving on giving a good user experience which is of vital importance. Google advises to make security of your website an important point because of the hackings which take place result into an abuse to a website which kills a good user experience. Google itself is making efforts to introduce and implement new ways for the security issues related to hacking and online malpractices.

12.  Can a single desktop page be split into multiple mobile pages and still get indexed as per Google norms? Hard to have all Desktop content on a single mobile page, so need to split.

Answer: Google neither have any recommendations on it nor does it support splitting. Many sites split their desktop page into multiple mobile pages to make matters simpler for mobile users. But linking your mobile page with desktop page follows a pattern wherein your desktop page which you set up, you include ‘rel=alternate tag and for your mobile site you include ‘rel=canonical’ tag so that Google understands it. But Google understands this pattern in 1:1 ratio where 1 desktop page relates with 1 mobile page. If you split your mobile page into 2 and your desktop page stays 1 then this ratio gets disturbed which makes it difficult for Google to understand and index it.

13.  Will the "mobile-friendly" update affect dramatically the "mobile-UN-friendly" sites for desktop search?

Answer: This change has been brought in for mobile users and Google is making this change to give mobile users the search results they are looking for along with a good experience. This change will not affect the “mobile-UN-friendly” sites for desktop search.

14.  I've found links listed with errors in GWT's Mobile Usability tool that have passed Google's Mobile Friendly test. Should I assume that the Mobile friendly test is the ultimate decider between the two?

Answers: Mobile friendly test and mobile usability report should give you the same result. They should match up but what can be the difference is the time gap which mobile usability report takes to catch up with mobile friendly test result once Google starts crawling the mobile page.

15.  Will degrees of mobile friendliness impact rankings? E.g. two sites, same SEO, both mobile friendly but one site has a better mobile experience. Would the site with better UX on mobile rank higher in mobile search?

Answer: Getting a mobile friendly label for your site depends on various factors like small font sizes, your links, how close your buttons are on the mobile site, unplayable content, speed of your site, etc. You have all these and your site is mobile friendly which benefits you in ranking change. There are almost 200 factors which matters and hence it is difficult to give a yes or no answer to this question. It all depends on all the other attributes of your sites which gives a rich user experience on your mobile site.

16.  Which mobile solution do you officially recommend? (Responsive, Dynamic or And why?

Answer: Google recommends Responsive solution as it is easier to maintain one version of your content. You don’t have to worry about connections and re-directs. But it does not give you the boost in the rankings. The reason for recommending Responsive solution is since it gives a good user experience and it works very well seamlessly on all devices.

What lies ahead for all mobile users that time will only tell. So let us know how this article has thrown light on your knowledge about this Google ranking change and as a mobile user, what are you expecting from it.

17.  The update is going to affect adwords results or just organic results?

Answer: It is unclear as of now about how the Google AdWords team will take it in effect but organic results are sure to get affected.

18.  If I use Bootstrap and hide specific content for mobiles such as a slider image for example, would this affect the SERPs negatively?

Answer: Put your site through Google’s mobile friendly test. By hiding specific content, if your mobile layout gets affected then it may affect that your sites mobile search results. Google cannot be specific on that so it is advisable that you put your site through

19.  Would it be correct to assume that the errors reported in the mobile friendly tool are the signals Google is looking at in this chunk of the algorithm?

Answer:Google is trying to keep it all in sync. It wants the webmasters to make mobile friendly sites which will do well in search results. There might be some changes that don’t get matched up exactly right away but eventually it all will be synchronized.

20.  Will the algorithm change for all search languages or just for .com etc. for now and trickle down later?

Answer:This change will be for all search languages. It might take some days for all the languages to catch up but Google wants it to at global scale.

21.  Is the ranking change page specific or site wide - so if only part of a site is mobile-friendly will the change just affect those pages that are mobile friendly?

Answer:Yes, it is at a page level and it is the same for the ‘mobile friendly label’ which is displayed in the search results. Only the pages which are mobile friendly will show the label on them in the search results. If you have a large website then it depends on you as to which pages you think are more important. You will need to prioritize those pages which you think are important for mobile users. Then you can focus on those pages first and then you can get to the less important pages over time.

22.  What is the best approach for a mobile version that is smaller than the WWW version? 1. where to redirect pages existing in WWW but not in M? 2. Sitemap annotation is partial and we got errors in Google Webmasters?

Answer:If you have a mobile site which doesn’t contain all the information and doesn’t have same pages as the desktop version then Google recommends redirecting the users to the desktop version. It is better for users to actually see the content than not see anything at all.

As far as sitemaps are concerned then it is better to fill the help forms and send it to Google.

23.  If I decide to produce separated URLs for Mobile and Desktop, which structures will be better or

Answer:There are no particular recommendations on this question. Google webmasters advise on taking the right steps which you think might be better for your business.

What lies ahead for all mobile users that time will only tell. So let us know how this article has thrown light on your knowledge about this Google ranking change and as a mobile user, what are you expecting from it.


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