Search Engine Optimization | Anurag Gupta | Updated: 2017-08-30
Google's algorithm updates upend the search results and leave even the titans of the internet scrambling their heads for new optimization techniques. However, in the past two years, Google has been consistent with its update, throwing out and out spotlight on nothing but the mobile-friendliness of a website. From the Mobilegeddon algorithm update in 2015 to the launch-awaited mobile-first indexing, one thing is certain that Google wants your website to be more mobile-friendly.
It started penalizing websites without a mobile-friendly version back in 2015 and has tweaked up its algorithms to another level. While earlier it was merely about having a mobile-friendly version of the website on the net, now Google's latest algorithms demand the mobile-friendly website to be optimized to suit the whims of humans and search engine alike. Let's go through the three major Google algorithm updates of the past two years that prove Google is penalizing non-mobile-friendly websites.
Google, in an attempt to give a boost to the mobile-friendly pages, rolled out its mobile algorithm update two years back. It was on April 21st, 2015 that Google came up with its mobile-friendly update to reinforce the mobile version of web pages and offer higher SERP ranking to sites that have optimized their websites for mobiles. This mobile-friendly update is also called as the Mobilegeddon and is also popular among webmasters by many names like Mopocalypse, Mobilepocalyse, and Mobocalypse.
The mobile update in Google was under speculation for a long time and was deemed inevitable by the digital marketers. From 21st April 2015 onwards, Google started penalizing all the websites that were not optimized for mobile phones by making them rank lower. Instead of judging the website as a whole, Google started analyzing each and every page of the website to test its compatibility on mobile devices. The webmasters had to choose between dedicated websites and responsive websites. The mobile-friendly pages climbed up the ranking while the others were pushed down to lower ranking and even 2-3 pages back.
Accelerated Mobile Pages or AMP, as people call it popularly, is a Google-backed project that was announced on October 7, 2015. AMP listings were integrated into Google's mobile search results on February 24, 2016. The Accelerated Mobile Pages load instantly and offer a smooth experience to the users. Understanding the mobile reliance and the need for speed by users, Google launched its AMPs. More than 1.7 billion AMPs have been launched between the period of last quarter of 2015 and third quarter of 2017.
The AMP HTML is a like a subset or diet HTML that comprises of some custom properties and tags along with a few restrictions. It prevents the slowing down of the site due to the use of a multiple analytics tracking systems and comes two path analytics, i.e., The Amp-Pixel Element and The Amp-Analytics Extended Component. Owing to the fast page load speed, the accelerated mobile pages have a higher click through rate of around 63% and a very low bounce rate. AMP integration of websites is important in Google's eyes so that the user does not have to wait for a page to load.
Google announced its mobile-first indexing in November 2016 which is expected to rollout in the second half of 2017. Presently, Google ranks any mobile website by indexing the desktop version to know where the website would stand. Post the rollout of the mobile-first index update, Google would start analyzing the mobile sites of any business and according to the data collected from this analysis would it rank the desktop version of sites. Although our search index will continue to be a single index of websites and apps, our algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a site's content to rank pages from that site, to understand structured data, and to show snippets from those pages in our results, read the Google webmaster central blog regarding the mobile-first index . The mobile sites would be required to have a richer content that would enable higher ranking. In addition to that, the structured data and the real annotations should be present on the mobile version of the site to not get hit by the algorithmic waves. The sites that have different content (especially of lower quality) on the mobile version page would be penalized under the mobile-first indexing update that is expected to roll out soon. Full mobile compliance and equivalence between mobile and desktop should be the top priority of sites that do not want to be penalized.
Going through these statistics, one thing is clear that the users have become more inclined towards mobiles and Google is tweaking up its algorithms to make websites optimized for humans before anyone else. It is 2017 and mobiles have already surpassed desktop searches. Whether we talk about the Mobilegeddon update, the AMP integration or the mobile-first indexing, all of them point out to Google's desire of a completely functional mobile-friendly website.
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