Frequently Asked Questions About Google’s Mobile-Friendly Update

Google’s recent algorithm change has had many of us scratching our heads. Here are some answers to the questions we have been asked via our 24×7 tech support channels.
Google has been a major topic around our offices since the announcement of their mobile-friendly ranking changes earlier this year. Since the roll-out of the update, many of our clients have been confused about what’s what in the #mobilegeddon aftermath.
Here are some questions that we are commonly asked along with answers straight from Google Webmaster Central:
Who is affected by the update changes?
It affects searches from mobile devices across all languages and locations.
Google’s crawlers will evaluate the mobile accessibility for all sites across all languages. If your site is deemed ‘mobile-friendly’ you will not experience any negative changes within your searches.
Is my site affected as a whole, or just individual pages?
It’s a page-level change. For instance, if ten of your site’s pages are mobile-friendly, but the rest of your pages aren’t, only the ten mobile-friendly pages can be positively impacted.
The Google update should be seen as a reward system rather than a punishment. If your pages are considered to be easily viewed on mobile you can expect a reward in Search Engine Optimization (SEO). If not, your ranking should not change.
How do I know if my pages are mobile-friendly?
Individual pages can be tested for “mobile-friendliness” using the Mobile-Friendly Test.
If your results come up green you can expect to be rewarded within your Google search rank. If not, visit our Website Builder for easy-to-use optimization tools. Visit the Mobile Usability report in Webmaster tools to review site level mobile-friendliness.
What if my mobile-friendly pages weren’t ready by April 21st?
“We determine whether a page is mobile-friendly every time it’s crawled and indexed — you don’t have to wait for another update.”
Once your pages are mobile-friendly you can wait for Google to re-crawl your site or you can speed up the process by visiting this site. Google advises you to submit a sitemap for large websites.
I think my pages are mobile-friendly but I’m getting the red light. Why?
If your site is not getting the go-ahead from Google it could be because for some reason your pages are blocking the crawling resources like CSS and JavaScript that are used to determine whether pages are mobile-friendly. Google recommends taking the following steps:

  • Check if the Mobile-Friendly Test shows blocked resources (often accompanied with a partially rendered image).
  • Double check that your page passes the Mobile-Friendly Test.

If my site is not mobile-friendly does it mean it won’t be shown in mobile searches?
“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 high if it has great content for the query.”
Google’s number one ranking signal is still quality content. Even if your pages are not mobile friendly you will still rank highly if your site features high quality, factual content, but for a boost in ratings for a high quality, mobile-friendly site would be best practice.
Will I be penalized for linking to sites which don’t pass the Mobile Friendly test?
“Your page can still be “mobile-friendly” even if it links to a page that’s not mobile-friendly.”
Google will not punish your pages for links to other pages that are not mobile-friendly. It can be jarring to move between mobile-optimized and desktop pages, but as more and more sites optimize their pages it should become less of a problem over time.
Do I need to be mobile-friendly even if my audience are primarily desktop users?
“The mobile-friendly update will apply to mobile searches conducted across all sites, regardless of the site’s target audiences’ language, region, or proportion of mobile to desktop traffic.”
Statistics have shown that more and more users are accessing online content solely from mobile devices. Desktops are being replaced by smartphones and tablets (and more recently hybrid phablets!) at an alarming rate. If you don’t mind suffering in the search rankings you could probably put off optimization for a while, but in the mobile age, it’s definitely good idea to make the move to mobile-friendly.

Still have questions? Check out Google’s Getting Started Guide

And remember that the Midphase tech support team is standing by 24x7x365 to help.