Q&A for Google’s Mobile Friendly Algorithm

Google’s “mobile friendly” algorithm update, to be released on April 21, has understandably created a major shift in the way ecommerce sites think about their mobile search optimization strategies.

Announced over a month ago, the “mobile friendly” algorithm update will have what Google calls a “significant impact” on mobile search results worldwide. On April 21 and rolling out over the following week, Google will begin to give a ranking performance boost to sites that provide searchers with a positive mobile experience.

‘How can I tell if my site is mobile friendly?’

The good news is that Google has provided a very clear pass-fail test to tell you if your pages are mobile friendly by Google’s standards. The Mobile-Friendly Test is simple: Paste in a URL and wait approximately 60 seconds for the test to complete. Don’t worry if the progress bar slows down around the 60 to 70 percent mark — that’s typical and does not indicate impending test failure.

Because the algorithm will be applied to every page individually, as opposed to an entire site, you should test multiple pages. It’s possible for your home page to pass the test and your product pages to fail, for example.

If your site, like most ecommerce sites, is built on a series of templates that uniformly display whatever content is required, it’s probably enough to test one page that uses each template. To be safe, I’d also recommend testing the URLs that drive the most mobile organic search from Google as well, regardless of which template they use.Google Webmaster Tools’ Top Pages report is an easy way to access that list of pages without having to dig into your web analytics. While you’re in Webmaster Tools, look at the Mobile Usability report, which identifies exactly which URLs on your site have mobile-friendly issues with Google.

Google Webmaster Tools has also begun communicating mobile issues to via its Messages feature. If you don’t see a message from Google Webmaster Tools, you should still test your site yourself. The message should be regarded as a confirmation that there definitely is a problem, rather than assuming that its absence means that your site has passed.

Does Google’s Mobile-friendly Update Affect All Sites?

That depends entirely on whether your site passes the mobile-friendly test on April 21. Head to Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test and enter a URL. In about 60 seconds, the tool will give a definitive and easy-to-understand pass-fail response. The test results page will also specify reasons that the page has been deemed unfriendly, such as small text, link spacing, horizontal scrolling, and other mobile usability issues.


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