Q&A session for mobile-friendly ranking change

Q&A session for mobile-friendly ranking change


MARY: It’s working, I think. MICHAEL: Yeah. MARY: Hey, everyone. Thank you for tuning
in to our Q&A session. This is a bigger effort as
part of Mobile Madness, which is our month-long campaign
to help webmasters get ready for the April
21 ranking change. So my name is Mary, and I’m part
of this big Google Webmasters team. MICHAEL: And I’m Michael. I’m also on the
Webmaster Relations team. MARY: Yep. So in this Q&A
session, we’re going to be going over several things. We’ll give you
details about what’s coming, what this
ranking change entails, some background
information on how mobile is really important,
why we’re focusing on mobile friendliness. And then we have some
commonly asked questions that we’ve been getting
in the past few weeks, so we’ll answer those,
and then finally, we’ll take your questions. So we have a lot of
questions on the Events page and also in the Q&A panel, but
if you are watching this live and you have some questions,
just put it in the Events page, or put it in the Q&A
panel on the right. Cool. So let’s get started. Michael, do you want to talk
a little about why mobile is so important and
why we’re focusing on mobile friendliness? MICHAEL: Yeah, sure. I can just make a few
quick points on that. So as most of you probably
know, you can’t really escape it these days. Mobile usage is
definitely on the rise. If you look at any
graph of mobile traffic and mobile adoption,
especially in certain regions, people are just going mobile. And a lot of people have mobile
devices as their only device that they use to get online–
I think especially people who, unlike us, don’t sit at
a desk and a computer all day. So you think, users are going
mobile, what does Google do? Well, we’re just always
trying to give users the results that they like. And it turns out
that users like it when they have a good
experience on their device. And so we’ve been working
towards this with the changes that we’ve been making. So previously, we’ve
addressed issues like mobile only 404s, faulty
redirects, unplayable content, that kind of thing, as ranking
factors or badging and labeling in search results. And now we’re working on a new
change, a new, more significant ranking change, that
uses mobile friendliness as a ranking factor. That’ll be coming
out on April 21. So this will make it so that
if you’re on a smartphone, you’re more likely to get
mobile-friendly results in your search results. So that’s the basic
idea of this change. And there’s a bunch
of different factors that go into determining if
a site is mobile-friendly friendly or not. And so Mary’s going to just run
through some of those details. MARY: Yeah. So we have certain criteria that
we label as mobile-friendly, which is what we’re using
to decide if a site is mobile-friendly or not. So these include, let’s say,
your links or your buttons are just placed
too close together. If your font size
is too small, if you set a viewport that’s
not right for the device, or you didn’t set one
or it’s set incorrectly, that’s one of our
criteria too, and also if you’re using unplayable
content, such as Flash. So how do you know if your
site is mobile-friendly or not? There are several ways to check. First, you can just
take out your phone. I don’t have one with me. But take out your phone,
look up your website, and see if there is a
gray mobile-friendly label in your descriptions snippet. So it’s in your search results. If you see it, it
means that Google understands that your
site is mobile-friendly. And if you don’t see
it, then we don’t see that your site’s
mobile-friendly, or maybe it’s not
mobile-friendly. So the second test you can do
is our mobile-friendly test, which is the test that we use to
show you if pages of your site are mobile-friendly. So you can go to
g.co/mobilefriendly, or we have a link everywhere
on our social pages right now. And just put in pages of your
site, like your root page, some of the deep URLs, or
some of the unusual pages that you have, and see if we can
understand that your pages are mobile-friendly or not. And if it’s not, we actually
tell you what kind of problems we’re seeing. Like, maybe your
viewport’s not set, or maybe the font’s too small. And also, if you have a
Webmaster Tools account, then we will give you a report,
a mobile usability report, with errors and
the specific pages that we see these
errors occurring on. And maybe you also have been
receiving messages from us. So we’ve been
informing webmasters on several different
platforms and channels, and there’s a lot of
resources for you too. And keep in mind that these
criteria that I mentioned, they’re not arbitrary. It’s not just like we’re
randomly choosing things that we want to count
as mobile-friendly. These are actual
pain points that we see users, and even us,
experience on small devices. And these are really
important because when you’re on a smaller device,
font size does matter. I don’t really like looking
at sites, where you can’t read anything, or maybe I can’t even
zoom because their viewport is fixed. And we actually
have a funny story. I wanted Michael to share
this, because his own site was affected by the
mobile-friendly test, and he didn’t have the
best experience with it. Do you mind sharing it? MICHAEL: No, I don’t
mind, because I knew you were going to
make me tell this story. So we were sitting in this room. So we were just in
our office here. And I was testing the
mobile-friendly test, and so I put in a
page that I knew. I put in my personal homepage,
and it was a very simple page. And I figured, how could
this ever fail the test? And it said that my page
was not mobile-friendly and that the links were–
and the reason that it gave– so like Mary said,
it will actually tell you what the reasons are. And it said that the links
were too close together. And it’s like, what? No, it’s totally not
too close together. MARY: Yeah, because the
font size is pretty bit. Like, it looked like it
wasn’t too close together. MICHAEL: Yeah. I had a link on every
line, so it was kind of like just one line down. And I was like, there’s a bug. This isn’t right. And I turned around
to show my team. And I was like, see, look. It says that the links
are too close together. And so I pulled out my
phone, I opened up my page, and I go on it. I’m like, look. You can totally get
to the right link. And I tapped, and sure enough,
I totally missed the link target that I was going for and
tapped on the wrong link. And so I kind of played around
with it and realized, OK, yeah. In the actual
layout that I have, it was actually difficult
on a phone to it figure out. So I ended up just changing
the layout a little bit. So I kind of moved things out
a little bit more horizontally, and it ended up
passing the test, and I was able to hit all the
tap targets 100% of the time. So the test, at least in my
experience, trust the test. MARY: Yeah. We’re not doing
anything arbitrary. You had that problem
on your own site. And if you have a site,
just take out your phone. Play around with it,
click on the links, or even give it to your
friends or family and ask them, can you navigate my site? Are there any issues
you’re seeing? Do you think this font doesn’t
work, or maybe even the colors? So these are real
issues, and that’s why we’re making them on the
mobile-friendly criteria. So let’s see. Let me talk about the
specifics of this change. A lot of people
have been wondering. Yes, we’re expecting to
roll out on April 21. We don’t have a set
time period because it’s going to take a couple of
days to roll out, maybe a week or so. And this is going to affect
mobile search results. It’s not going to
affect desktop searches. So this means that when
you take out your phone, you do a mobile search,
all of those search results are going to be affected. So mobile-friendly
sites are going to be shown more prominently. And then consequently, sites
that are not mobile-friendly are going to be lower in
search results because of that. And this does not affect desktop
search results– just mobile. And it’s going to be
for all languages. We’re rolling out
April 21, but we don’t have a specific
timeline, because it takes time for this stuff to roll out. So just expect it to take effect
days after, or maybe a week or so after. What kind of common questions
are we getting these days? MICHAEL: Yeah. So the most common question
that I’ve been seeing is that people ask,
when I run my site through the
mobile-friendly test, why does the screenshot
look a little different than it actually looks on
a phone to a real user? And the reason for this is
if you’re blocking resources from Googlebot. So when you run the
mobile-friendly test, it actually accesses
the page as Googlebot. And as part of that, it will
respect your robot’s .txt file. And so if you’re blocking a
resource for Googlebot that is required to render the
page– so maybe images, CSS, or JavaScript files–
we’re not going to be able to see the page
and render it as a user would. And so if that’s
the case and you’re seeing that maybe everything
looks fine on your phone and you have a responsive
design and everything’s great, but then Google says, no,
it’s not mobile-friendly and the screenshot
looks kind of weird, see if you can unblock
those resources, because that’s the only way that
we can know that your site is mobile-friendly
and we can label it as mobile-friendly
in search results. It can benefit from this
ranking change that’s coming up. So just make sure that we can
see the page as users see it. So I think that was kind
of like the main question that we have seen. So maybe we can just
jump into the Q&A that we’ve been seeing here. MARY: Yeah. We have a lot of
questions on the Q&A panel and also on the comments. Which one do you
want to do first? [INAUDIBLE]? MICHAEL: Yeah. Let’s do that. So– MARY: Here’s a question from
Danillo Atrosi regarding the case of an m.site.com
page that doesn’t work, that doesn’t have a
www.site.com desktop page. The FAQ 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? MICHAEL: OK. Cool. Maybe we can click on the
one that we’re answering, so people can find this later. OK. Cool. Yeah. So that quote about
the shared indexing signals, that comes from our
Mobile Developer’s Guide. So I think we probably link
to this event description, or you can easily find it if
you search for Google Mobile Developer Guide. And so the idea of
shared ranking signals– so let’s say that you
have a desktop version of a page, www.example.com,
and then you have a mobile version of that
same page on m.example.com. If you connect to
them properly– and we have all the
documentation for how to do this on our guide
for mobile-friendly sites– we can consolidate some
ranking signals like links. And so how does
this benefit you? So let’s say that the mobile
version has five links to it, so those links were
probably created when people were on
their mobile phone and sharing that link
with their friends, and then someone links to it. So you have five links
to m.example.com. And then you also have
people discovering your site on desktop, and so you have
three links to www.example.com. If we know that
each of those URLs are representing
the same page, we could say, OK, maybe that
page, that piece of content as a whole, has eight
links to it, which can help you potentially in ranking. And then at the time
that we serve the URL, we’ll just show the
right version of it, depending on the user’s device. So that answer in the
FAQ that you referred to, that’s basically just saying
that if there’s a mobile page– say, m.example.com– and it’s
the only version of that page, there’s no desktop
equivalent, then that page will just kind
of have to rank on its own, because there’s no other
page to consolidate links or something like that with. So yeah. Thanks a lot for your question. OK. Danillo has asked
a few questions. MARY: Yeah. Maybe we could
just answer those. MICHAEL: The next
one was– Mary, maybe I’ll have you do this one. So what if m.site.com
is– oh, I’m sorry. What if instead of
m.site.com, my mobile site is www.site2.com? So a different domain. So provided everything
is set correctly, so using rel=alternate,
rel=canonical, site maps, et cetera, will it
receive the ranking boost? MARY: Yeah. So it’s perfectly fine to
have your mobile site set up on a different domain. You don’t have to do
m.site.com or site.com/mobile. You can have it on
a separate domain. That’s perfectly fine. What we ask is that you set
up bi-directional annotations. So on your desktop homepage,
which you set as a canonical, make sure you’re
telling us which are the alternate versions by
setting your rel alternate. And then on your
mobile version, which I’m assuming you’re
saying it’s site2.com, make sure you have a
rel canonical set up. So set those up, tell us also in
the site maps if you have one, and just make sure
that we understand which one is your desktop and
which one is your mobile site. So it’s perfectly fine, and
just set it up correctly. Cool. And then Danillo
also asked, what is the technical behavior
of this new ranking factor? Is it an on/off
switch, or something on [? fire’s ?] giving
the same fixed amount of benefit, or only to sites
only when some requirements are fulfilled? What do you think, Michael? MICHAEL: Sure. So right now I think we’re
looking at a change, where it’s one or the other. It’s basically
mobile-friendly or it’s not. But as we try to
remind people a lot, I wouldn’t focus too
much on the specifics of how the algorithm works. I would focus on making a
usable site, because maybe in the future, there’d be
some sort of a scale, where a site that’s totally unusable
is different than a site that is maybe not quite fitting
all of our criteria, but if you zoom in or
something like that, then it becomes usable. And there might be
some sort of a scale. But I think the
important thing is just focus on making a great
site, because then you don’t have to worry about all
the little nuances of ranking, which is always
being updated anyway. You just make a great
site, and then you’re in a good place
just automatically. MARY: Yeah. That’s good. We have one more from
Danillo, so we’re just going to answer all of these. So even if I’m using well
done responsive templates, are there any other
factors that can label my site as non-mobile-friendly? So for example, full screen
interstitial ads or videos that automatically
play below the fold. You want to take this one? MICHAEL: Yes, I do. So I’d seen this
one kind of come in, and I get kind of fired up about
user experience kind of stuff. So you’re mentioning things
like interstitials and videos that play automatically. I would say, actually,
kind of like I was saying at the end of
the previous answer, first, think about the user. Are you providing
a good experience? And I think that many
users probably don’t like full-screen interstitials. Personally, I know I don’t. Mary, I don’t know if
you enjoy interstitials? MARY: Uh-uh. No. MICHAEL: No? OK. Yeah. MARY: It’s hard to click
on the Close button too. I usually just leave the page. MICHAEL: Yeah. Yeah, I was just going to
say that I do the same thing. Personally, I just abandon
the site right there. You’ve lost me if I
see an interstitial. Other users might be
a little more patient. I’m not very patient. And so whether it’s
part of the criteria or not, I would think
about, would this be something that annoys users? And so I don’t think it’s
specifically called out in our current
criteria on the test, but I know that in
our mobile guidelines, we recommend that you do not use
these full-page interstitials for an app download. MARY: It’s in the
common mistakes section, if you want to take a look. MICHAEL: Right. So that’s definitely
something that I would avoid. And, again, remember, don’t
focus on the algorithm, because it’s going after
a good user experience. So it might even
change in the future. And just kind of
backing up and thinking about algorithmic
changes, the thing that we’re chasing
after is we’re always trying to
find the best results that users are going to like. They’re going to have a good
experience on that page. So that’s kind of where
the inspiration comes from. And so if you’re also
going after that same goal, then you don’t have to chase
all the algorithmic changes. So we used to not
use speed in ranking, but we saw that users
liked faster sites, and so we added that
as a ranking factor. And so if you were already
making your site fast, then you just benefit from
that when that happens. And so I would
say if you’re kind of wondering how we’re
going to see things, run it through the test. See if it passes. If it doesn’t pass, we’ll let
you know about the criteria that it didn’t meet. And we’ll try to
keep that in sync with how the label is generated,
although as we try to update things, I could see us
maybe being a little more careful about adding
signals to something like a ranking
algorithm or the label. If we try something
new, maybe we try something out first
in the test and kind of get feedback on it, because
that’s more immediate where we can see
what you’re posting in the forum and
that kind of thing. But I would say,
basically, right now, if it passes the test and isn’t
flagged in Webmaster Tools, you should expect
to get that label. And there’s other
factors to providing a good mobile experience. So just test it on a phone. Look for feedback
from your users. Are they complaining
that it’s loading slowly or something like that? Focus on real issues
that users have. So I feel like I’m
repeating myself. So I’ll just say, yeah,
don’t chase the algorithm. Focus on a good user experience. Focus on the user and all
else will follow, right? MARY: Yeah. MICHAEL: Cool. MARY: What’s next? MICHAEL: All right. Sorry. I talked a lot there. I don’t like interstitials. All right. So let’s see if we can find
this question in the Q&A. Does the mobile-friendly
label tell me that I’m currently receiving
the benefit, or are those two things unrelated? MARY: Yeah. I can take this one. Basically, those are related. So if you have the
mobile-friendly label in search results, which
is the same as showing up as mobile-friendly if you
use our mobile-friendly test, then your site will be
considered mobile-friendly in our ranking change. And keep in mind that
it’s on a per page basis. I see a lot of
questions coming in whether it’s going to
be for your entire site or for the page, but
these are per page bases. And also just keep in mind
that it’s a big change, but there are over 200 factors
that we use for ranking. So even though we call out
this, because it’s prominent, there are still all these
things you should work on. And we always emphasize
creating high quality content. Like, if your site has
high-quality content, then your users are going to
come back to it, whether they search for it in
the search results or they just type
it into the address. So just make sure that you do
make your site mobile-friendly, but make sure to also provide
a great experience too. MICHAEL: Yep. Definitely. MARY: Maybe I’ll just
take a last one from him, and then you just jump
to other questions. MICHAEL: OK. MARY: So are desktop
and mobile SERPs going to be identical
after the update, or are mobile
search results going to be significantly different? So as we said, because
this ranking factor changes mobile search results,
then the two search results will not be the same. They’re probably going
to be quite different. In the future, hopefully
because of this ranking change that we’re making, more sites
will be mobile-friendly. And ideally, you want to
provide your users a good user experience, and that’s what
we want to do at Google too. When people are searching
on their mobile devices, we want to make sure that
they’re getting a mobile site where they can see the
actual content clearly, that all the content’s
actually playable. So we want to give
you the best results regardless of what
platform you’re using. So that may mean that your
desktop searches are different, because you can see more
content on a bigger screen. And that may mean that if
you have location set up on your site, then we’ll show
you more prominent results because of location. So they will be different. MICHAEL: Cool. Makes sense. MARY: Oh, here’s a good
one by Zim Zimpster. MICHAEL: Let’s
click on the thing. Oops. MARY: The question
is, you get a lot of questions, usually the same
flavor and lots of repeats. My question is, what
questions should we be asking that alarm you, and
what should we take notice more than we do as webmasters? What should we be
doing and not doing? MICHAEL: All right. So what questions should
webmasters be asking? So just one more
time, I would say don’t focus on
chasing the algorithm. You should be spending most
your time on your business and making a great
site that users like. But one thing that
I would say just from what we’ve been
seeing is something that I’d like webmasters
to take a little more note of is security and
spam and abuse prevention. Unfortunately, there’s
a lot of hacking that’s going on
on the web, and it leads to a bad
experience for everyone. Or even just comment spam
and that kind of thing– it’s kind of sad to
see a really good site get abused by this
kind of thing. So we’re trying to help
out more with this. We’ve been doing
some case studies. We have some better
documentation in the works, and I think that better
security benefits everyone. So I hope that we
can work together on this, whether you’re an
individual site owner, a CMS provider, hosting provider,
that kind of thing. So that’s, I would
say, if you just are looking for something that
I want people to focus on, I would say don’t
forget about security. But in terms of asking us
questions, go ahead and ask away, whatever’s on your mind. You said that we get questions
that tend to be repeated. I think, actually,
when that happens, that’s good feedback for us. So it lets us know
that webmasters think that this is a
really important issue or we’re not being clear
or it’s just something that they’re interested in. So thanks for the questions,
and keep them coming. MARY: Let’s go back to designing
a mobile-friendly site. So Sanjay asked, what if my
website contains subdomains as well as responsive design? Will it be considered
as healthy behavior in terms of mobile ranking? Subdomains and
responsive design. MICHAEL: Yeah, so I don’t know
if I quite get the question. So if you could give us a
specific example in the forum, we might be able to take a
closer look, because generally, with responsive, the idea is
that you have all of your users go to the same URL. And then the page just gets
reformatted appropriately, so you wouldn’t need to
have a separate subdomain for mobile sites. So feel free to drop us that
question in the Webmaster Help forum. But basically you can set up
your site however you like. If you want a separate
mobile subdomain, we have guidelines for that in
our guide for mobile-friendly sites, where you can use
rel=alternate and rel=canonical to connect your desktop
and mobile pages together, get that consolidated ranking
signals that we talked about. Or you could have responsive
pages, like I said, where it’s all on the same URL. It’s totally up to you. We support both. We also support dynamic serving. But we do recommend
responsive design, just because it can be easier
to maintain a single page. There are fewer things that
can go wrong in terms of SEO and canonicalization
if you don’t have to keep track of that rel
alternate and rel canonical connection, making sure that
your redirects are all correct, and directing users
to the right pages and not to the homepage
or something like that. But it doesn’t mean that in
ranking we prefer responsive. It’s just our
recommendation for you. And depending on your
particular situation– I mean everyone’s site is
different– responsive design might not be right for you. Maybe you want to take
a different approach, and, again, that’s totally fine. And we have guidelines
for how you can let us know how your site is set up. So check out the mobile guide. MARY: Cool. MICHAEL: All right. So we have another
question here. Can a single desktop
page be split into multiple mobile
pages and still get indexed as per Google norms? It’s hard to have
all desktop content on a single mobile
page, so need to split– MARY: To the mobile
pages they’re splitting. MICHAEL: Yeah, it
sounds like they have a single page on desktop. Then on mobile,
it’s multiple pages. MARY: Right. Yeah. We see it often. I also see it on a lot
of shopping sites too. It’s not bad, per se, but we
don’t have any recommendations. We don’t support
it at the minute. MICHAEL: Yeah. So I guess with
that, you might run into some canonical
virtualization and consolidating
ranking signals, because the rel
alternate and rel canonical expects that there’s
a one-to-one connection. So if you’re going to
connect to your mobile page, it connects to one desktop page. So yeah, that’s something that
we just don’t support yet. So we might not get that
right exactly in ranking. So just making
you aware of that. MARY: Great. Next. Do you want to take this one? MICHAEL: OK. Will the mobile-friendly
update affect dramatically mobile-unfriendly sites
for desktop search? MARY: Right. So as we mentioned, no. This is specifically for
mobile search results, and as we mentioned,
this is because we want to make sure that
when mobile users– people on their smartphones,
mobile devices– are looking for
search results, then we are presenting them
with the best experience. So it’s not going to affect
mobile-unfriendly sites for a desktop search. MICHAEL: Makes sense. MARY: Next. MICHAEL: Jane asks, I’ve
found links listed with errors in Google Webmaster Tools
Mobile Usability tool that have passed Google’s
mobile-friendly test, so should I assume that
the mobile-friendly test is the ultimate decider
between the two? MARY: The mobile-friendly test
and the mobile usability report should give you the same result. They should match up. What could be the
difference is, let’s say, you did fix your site. The mobile usability report
will give you a last detected. It’ll give you a date. So let’s say you
fixed your site and we haven’t crawled those
pages yet, so it might not be the most updated information. So in this case, if you
did change your site, if you want to see if we
detect it as mobile-friendly, run it through the
mobile-friendly test, and the mobile usability report
will catch it when it crawls. So in any case, the
two should match up. The difference we
see is probably due to a time lag
with the crawl. But if you do you see
any discrepancies, let us know in the Help Forum. Give a specific URL,
so we can take a look. Specific URLs are really
important for debugging. But yes, they should match up. MICHAEL: Awesome. MARY: This is a good question. Let’s talk about apps. MICHAEL: Yeah. All right. So I don’t know. I think that’s one that
was submitted as a comment. MARY: Yeah. Let’s take some of
the comment questions. MICHAEL: And so the
question is from Sarah. How will the ranking
change affect apps? So will app indexing
also improve the visibility of
apps for people who have not yet installed it? OK. So we actually had– when we
announced this ranking change back in February, the
upcoming ranking change, we also said that we’re
going to– we’ve already started to use information
from indexed apps as a factor in ranking, but
for signed-in users who already have the app installed. So now we might surface
content from index apps more prominently in
search for signed-in users who have the app installed. MARY: Cool. Let’s take a few more
from the comments page. There’s a question in French. I took a few years
of French, so I’m going to try to tackle this. Once the errors are
detected in Webmaster Tools have been corrected,
do we need to re-index the pages for the
corrections to be sent– OK, so this is talking about
the mobile usability report, the errors that we’re
showing with specific pages. Once you correct
those, you don’t really need to do anything. We’ll see it the next
time we crawl the pages. So it’s not like you need
to resubmit your site. You can double check that the
mistakes have been corrected by putting those pages
that you corrected in the mobile-friendly test. But in terms of a
mobile usability report, that’s going to
be updated the next time we see it. And then the second
part of the question is, why are the results
different with PHP insight? Yeah. So this is part of a
commonly asked question we got that Michael
answered in the beginning. So the mobile-friendly test
uses Googlebot to crawl, and because we use
Googlebot, we adhere to robots.txt directives,
so if you’re telling us not to crawl a specific
CSS or JavaScript file, then maybe we can’t see that
your site’s mobile-friendly. But the PHP insight tool,
that shows pages in a way that a real user would see
the page when it loads. So that doesn’t use
Googlebot, and that’s why there might be
discrepancies between the two. So for this ranking
change, you should use the mobile-friendly
test, and that’s how Googlebot would
see your site. MICHAEL: Yeah. You definitely want
it to be doing well in a mobile-friendly test. So your Canadian heritage
helped you out there. MARY: My classes
were somehow helpful. MICHAEL: Cool. MARY: So Terrance
has a few questions on the comment section. Let’s get to them, and then
we have a bunch of new ones. MICHAEL: Yeah, I see some
new stuff is coming in through the Q&A. MARY: So for sites using the
separate URL configuration, when desktop page A
canonicals to desktop page B, should mobile page A canonical
desktop to page A or B? As a more general question, are
canonical chains a bad thing, like redirect chains? So in general, with redirect
chains or canonicals, try to be as direct as possible. Googlebot can crawl
a few redirects. But it might get
confused, or it might just stop trying if there’s too many. So similarly, with mobile pages,
if you have a canonical desktop page, then regardless of
what mobile page you have, you want to point
it to the canonical. Because if you have your
mobile page pointing to one canonical desktop page,
and then that desktop page points to another canonical,
you’re essentially telling us, hey, I have two canonical pages. We might understand, but just
set it right the first time, and don’t confuse us
with mixed signals. I can take the next one too. MICHAEL: Sure. Go for it. MARY: On the 21st of
April, is a mobile update going to roll out
over a period of time, or would it take full
effect on that day? We mentioned this
in the beginning. It’s going to take a few
days, or maybe even a week or so for it to roll out. We don’t have any specifics on
exactly what the time frame is, so it’s going to be a few days. Do you want to do this one? MICHAEL: Yeah. For sites using the
separate URL configuration and have Webmaster
Tools set up for both the desktop and mobile sites,
will mobile-friendly issues still be reported for the
desktop pages, even when there are mobile equivalent pages,
if those pages have been set up correctly as per the guidelines? So you have a mobile version
of your site, a desktop version of your site, you have them
both in Webmaster Tools– will you see errors on
the desktop version? So I believe that if you
have it set up correctly, so the mobile page is
mobile-friendly and you have the connection set up between
the two with rel=alternate and rel=canonical and hopefully
you’re redirecting users based on their device to the right
version and Googlebot’s able to follow all of that, then
you shouldn’t see an error. If something’s not
right and we’re not able to see that connection,
or maybe something’s going on with the way that you
handle user agents, then you will see an error. So yeah, I would say
pay attention to those. And if you have any questions
about why you’re seeing it and you think that
maybe it’s something that you should be
ignoring, post about it in the Webmaster Help forum,
and we can take a look. MARY: There’s three
more from him. MICHAEL: Wow. OK. Keep going. MARY: For sites using
separate URL configuration, as long as it’s been
set up correctly, the desktop page is a
version of the page that is used for ranking, even when
the mobile page is returned. Will this continue to be
the case after the rollout? So yes, we used
the shared signals for both desktop and
mobile search results, and they affect both. For example, you have a desktop
page, you have a mobile page, and there’s links pointing
to both desktop and mobile. We’ll consolidate
that, and that’s going to help you in search results. But this particular
ranking change only affects mobile search results. So in this case, it’s not going
to affect the desktop page. Two more from him. MICHAEL: So for sites that
are not mobile-friendly, will that site’s
rankings be affected for searches for its branding? Is it possible that a site’s
social media accounts, review sites, et cetera,
might start to rank higher than the site itself,
because those sites are mobile-friendly? So I would point out here that
this ranking signal is just one of hundreds of signals
that we use in ranking. And as I said earlier,
we’re just always trying to show the user what
they’re looking for, and that’s going to give
them a good experience. And so a lot of the factors that
we use are focused on relevance and not just quality
or usability. So as we balance
all these factors, if we would make a
single factor too strong, that wouldn’t be good for users. So imagine if we only used
page rank, which is the number and quality of links to a page. If we use that as our
only ranking signal, then no matter what you
search for, the site with the highest page rank
would always show up first. So you just get the same
results for every single thing that you type into Google. Or if we only ranked
based on speed, then whatever the fastest
site on the web is would always show up number one. And you’d have the same
results for every query, and that would be a pretty
frustrating experience. So that’s kind of an
extreme example there, but I would say that if
someone’s explicitly searching for a particular
site or business, it seems like a pretty
strong user intent, I wouldn’t be surprised if
the official site shows up first on mobile, even if
it’s not mobile-friendly, assuming it’s not
just totally broken. But it’s not guaranteed, so
you can basically just avoid this worry and us trying to
run through this hypothetical situation if you just make
a mobile-friendly site. So that’s the best
thing you can do. And then it’s best for your
users, of course, as well, because beyond potentially
a ranking advantage, imagine the better conversions that
you might get once someone is on your site, for example. MARY: Cool. The next question– is
the Keyword Planner Tool going to be updated to
show the search volume breakdown for mobile
and desktop searches? If not, can we
request that it is? So Keyword Planner Tool–
that’s AdWords, right? MICHAEL: As far as I know, it’s
AdWords, which I don’t work on. MARY: Right. So we don’t know. As many of you know who
follow our channels closely, we keep organic search
results and paid advertisement completely separate. And we do this so that
organic search results are not influenced by any of
our paid customers, and this happens internally too. Like, the two teams
work separately, so we don’t give a heads
up to our paid customers so that they get any
kind of advantage. So because it’s kept
separately, we don’t know. This sounds like a good
feature, because mobile is really important, and
it’ll be a good idea for you to request it as
a feature request. And I work a lot on
our social channels, and I’ve seen that AdWords is
pretty responsive on Twitter too. MICHAEL: Yeah,
I’ve seen that too. MARY: So request it. And let us know. All right. How about this one here? MICHAEL: We just got the
mobile-friendly warning but can’t possibly
design or implement a mobile website that meets
our users’ needs in a month. What do you recommend? If we miss the deadline, will we
be restored to our proper place once the
mobile-friendly site– I guess the question got
cut off, but I can kind of see where it’s going. MARY: Yeah. I’ve heard this question a lot. MICHAEL: So what if I don’t
have a mobile-friendly site by April 21 is basically
what they’re asking. Good question. So if you haven’t been working
on a mobile-friendly site, I think now is a great
time to get started. As I mentioned
earlier, and as you’ve seen many other people
say, lots and lots of users are moving to mobile. You’ve probably seen this in
your own experiences of people that you know. So let’s say that you haven’t
made the change by the 21st. So while you won’t benefit
from the change at launch if your site isn’t
mobile-friendly, you can still continue
to work on making a mobile-friendly site. And then when it
is mobile-friendly and we re-crawl
your site and see that it is, even if
it’s after the 21st, you can benefit from
the ranking change then. So yeah, get going on making
that mobile-friendly site. Even if it takes longer than
a month, then that’s fine. MARY: Cool. This question–
this is pretty good. If we decide to go with
a separate mobile site, m.site.com, that mirrors
our desktop site, would we be penalized
for having duplicate content on the two sites? So this is a really
good question. The answer is no. But make sure you let us
know about your mobile site with bi-directional annotation. So I mentioned earlier, set
up your rel canonicals and rel alternates correctly to tell
us which is the desktop, which is the mobile. And by the way, there’s no
duplicate content penalty. If you spam, if you
scrape content and put it on several different pages
to abuse search results, that can result in
a manual action. For example, you make
throwaway pages– that can be a manual action. But in terms of having
the same content on a different platform,
like on your mobile site, there’s no duplicate
content penalty. So don’t worry about it. We get that question
a lot, and we don’t want to confuse
webmasters who are trying to just make a good site. MICHAEL: Yep. Cool. MARY: All right. So a lot of these got upvoted,
so let’s do this part. MICHAEL: Did we answer this one? MARY: No. Tom Wilkins– will degrees
of mobile-friendliness impact rankings? For example, there’s two sites–
same SEO, both mobile-friendly, but one site has a
better mobile experience. Will the site with
better UX on mobile rank higher in mobile search? So as we mentioned in
this particular change, you either have a
mobile-friendly label or not. And it’s based on the
criteria we mentioned, which are small font sizes,
your tap targets, your links, your buttons are too close
together, unplayable content, and your viewport. So if you have all those, and
your site’s mobile-friendly, then you benefit from
this ranking change. But as we mentioned
earlier, there’s over 200 different factors
that determine ranking, so we can’t give you a yes
or no answer with this. It depends on all the other
attributes your site has, whether it’s providing a
great user experience or not. So that’s the same
with desktop search. It’s not escalated
for mobile sites. MICHAEL: And we
have ranking factors that are– other than this one–
that are based on usability, speed, and that kind of thing. And then if you
think about it, also, if you have a better
experience, people are naturally, search
rankings aside, probably going to return to your site more,
recommend your site to others more, and so I would
focus on making the best experience that you can. Cool. I’m done there. Let’s do this one. What mobile solution
do you officially recommend– responsive, dynamic,
or mobile.domain.com– and why? So I think we said this earlier. We officially
recommend responsive, just because it’s
easier to maintain. It’s one version
of your content. You don’t have to worry about
connections and redirects and that kind of thing. But it doesn’t give
you a ranking boost. We just recommend it
for your own purposes. MARY: Yeah, I think people
get confused about that. MICHAEL: Maybe you
can explain it better. MARY: Just don’t
choose responsive thinking Google is going to
give you a higher ranking. All three work, and we
understand all three. The reason we recommend it is
because of the user experience. It works very well,
seamlessly on all devices. MICHAEL: And it can
be easier to maintain and that kind of thing. MARY: Yeah. MICHAEL: But yeah, so
do whatever you want. If you’re starting
from scratch, it’s probably easiest to
do the responsive, but if you do any
of them, check out our mobile guide,
because it tells you how to let Google know
how your site is set up. Now, we can probably go to
the top of the hour, maybe. And then we’re going to
run out of time here. We answered that. MARY: OK. Well, we can just re-answer. MICHAEL: Oh, we
didn’t answer this? I thought we answered this. MARY: Well, the question
is, is this for mobile only, or will desktop
rankings be affected? So this is for mobile only. Desktop sites will
not be affected. Next. MICHAEL: Will the
mobile-friendly algorithm also affect or also impact Google’s
vertical search engines, like Google News
and Google Images? I don’t know. I only generally speak for
web search, so web pages and search results. So unless anyone
else knows, I would say thanks for the question. And let’s see if we can
maybe get an answer here, and we’ll leave it as a comment. MARY: Yeah, we’ll
answer it later. MICHAEL: Yeah. Thanks for the question. We will have to look into this. MARY: Hurricane
asks, the update is going to affect AdWords results
or just organic search results? So we work on an organic
search, so I’m not sure how the AdWords team
will take it into effect, but this is going to affect
organic mobile search results. MICHAEL: Yeah. So we haven’t worked on
something for AdWords, but they– yeah. It makes sense for everyone
to focus on mobile, but I can’t speak
for that product. MARY: Is there going to be
an update in mobile apps’ appearance in search results? Should we do any development
on your Android apps? You talked about that. MICHAEL: I think I talked
about this earlier. So if you go back on our
blog, googlewebmasterc entral.blogspot.com, we
had a post in February that talks about a change
that affects app indexing. So if you have signed-in users
who have the app installed, we can better surface
content from indexed apps. So yeah. If you have an app, go for it. MARY: All right. We’re going to power through
the rest of the questions. This user is asking, if
they use Bootstrap and hide specific content for
mobile, such as a slider image for example,
will this affect SERPs, which is Search Engine
Results Page, negatively? So put your site through
our mobile-friendly test. If you are hiding
specific content from mobile that affect how
your site shows up– like, if you have a separate
mobile site– if it affects your mobile layout,
then it could affect you not getting the
mobile search results. But if it has nothing to do
with the template, the layout, then it might not. But I can’t speak for your
specific site, so make sure you put it through our
mobile-friendly test, which will give you the answer. MICHAEL: Yeah. Or post in the forum
or something like that. It’s good to see specific
examples of these things. MARY: All right. Next. Would it be correct to assume
that the errors reported in the mobile-friendly
tool are the signals Google is looking for in this
chunk of the algorithm? MICHAEL: Yeah. I think we’re basically trying
to keep that all in sync, because we’re not
trying to hide anything. We want webmasters to
make mobile-friendly sites and get that label and do
better in search results. So as far as I know, we’re
try to keep it all in sync. There might be some changes that
don’t get matched up exactly right away or
something like that, but they’re pretty much in sync. MARY: The next question is, will
the algorithm change for all search languages– so is it
going to affect all search languages or just for .com, .co,
for now and trickle down later? I don’t know the
exact steps, but yes. This change does
affect all languages. MICHAEL: We intend
for it to be global. MARY: Yeah. So it might take some days for
all the languages to catch up. We’re not sure if there’s
an order or anything. But yes. All languages. So let’s take this
one from David. MICHAEL: Is the ranking change
page-specific or site-wide? Oh, no one’s asked that yet. That’s a good question. So if only part of a
site is mobile-friendly, will the change just
affect those pages that are mobile-friendly? Yeah, so I think
it’s at a page level. So same thing for the label that
we’re using in search results. So if maybe you
have a larger site and everyone has
limited resources, you might want to
prioritize on what are your most important
pages, or what are your most important
pages for mobile users? So if you see where
people are generally accessing your site
from different devices, you can focus on your
more important pages first and then maybe get to the less
important pages over time. MARY: There are some with
a lot of higher upvotes. MICHAEL: Yeah. We’ll probably go for
about three more minutes, end at the top of the hour. And then the other–
I can tell right now we’re not going
to get everything, and so we can leave
those as comments later. MARY: This is a good one. What is the best approach
for a mobile version that is smaller than the www version? So the first question
is where to redirect pages existing in www as
in the desktop version, but not in the mobile version. The second question is site
map annotation is partial, and we get errors in
Google Webmasters. So if you have a
mobile site that doesn’t contain
all the information and doesn’t have the same
pages as the desktop version, we recommend that instead
of showing mobile 404s to redirect users to
those desktop pages, because it’s better for users
to actually see the content than not see anything at all. So if you’re unable to
provide all the content for some reason, redirect
them to the desktop versions. And for the site map
errors, it would be better if you just post
in our Help forum, so we can see your
specific error messages. And it’ll be easier
to diagnose that way. Did you find any other
questions that are helpful? MICHAEL: I’m trying to
find a good one to end on that has a lot of votes. Well, this one– I know
this one’s kind of common. I’ve seen this one before,
so maybe we can end on this. So someone’s asking, if I
decide to go with separate URLs for mobile and desktop, so not
using responsive or dynamic serving, which structure
would be better– mobile.site.com or
www.site.com/mobile? And so we get this
question about subdomains versus subdirectories
actually even outside of this
mobile ranking change. And we don’t have a
recommendation either way. Just do what makes
sense for your site. So however you want
to structure it, there’s advantages and
disadvantages to both. If you want something
to look like more of a separate site versus
maybe more of a subset of the main site, so
a lot of times people think about this if they have
user accounts or something like that. And sometimes subdirectories
are easier to set it up, so you don’t have to have
a different configuration for the subdomains. But do what makes sense for you. And as long as you follow
our recommendations and have all the connections
right, we’ll be able to see, OK, this is a desktop equivalent
of this mobile page or vice versa. Cool. So I know that we didn’t
get to all the questions, but we’ll probably do
our best to answer those. MARY: Yeah, we’ll
answer in the comments. MICHAEL: In the comments. MARY: Cool. Thank you for tuning in. We have a lot of
other stuff going on. Like, we have a web series for
small and medium businesses to go mobile-friendly,
so it’ll actually teach you how to use the
tools that we mentioned. We’ll also have sessions
on setting viewport, what’s a good configuration, and
we have other office hours too. So the entire schedule is
on our social channels, and if you have any
other questions, just ask on social or on
our Webmaster Help forum. So thank you for tuning in,
and good luck making your site mobile-friendly. MICHAEL: Cool. Thanks.

Author:

18 thoughts on “Q&A session for mobile-friendly ranking change”

  • Does an m.example.com site need to have the same amount of pages as the desktop version? Example: desktop has ~2000 pages and mobile has ~150

  • Do you anticipate a lot of older webpages (on sites that are no longer updated) being pushed down the rankings by this change and what effect will this have on their ability to pass rank on?

  • Francisco Meza says:

    Just go to themeforest and buy a mobile friendly theme. Don't be building from scratch if you don't have to. I build mobile friendly sites all the time.

  • Nathan Hammond says:

    The only question I have is: How big of a ranking signal is this going to be? I know it's not going to be as big as number of backlinks, but is it going to be the size of SSL or pagespeed? I'm assuming bigger than that…..

  • Website-Bauen.de says:

    You commented about blocked CSS and JS files in the robots.txt, which will result in a strange looking page in the test-results. I blocked mine from getting crawled because I find it to be a waste of resources: 1. a bot crawling files that mean nothing to a human and 2. my server has to render these files every 6 hours or so to your bot. Now why should my act in doing so show up as a problem?
    My argument is: Save the energy (both ways) and rather invest it in something more useful than for crawling my CSS files.

  • Nielsen Technical Services says:

    Sorry, this video is much too painful to watch.

    All I want to know is my site with good content going to rank lower than a site with bad content just because the owner of the bad site had more time to mess with theirs, or they bought some mobile template that 70 other sites have?

  • This young man keeps saying: Ah, aaaah, aaaaaaah, aaaaaaaaaaaaah. The aaaaaahh don't mean anything!  It is better get the whole idea, then speak!

  • Thanks so much for the information Mary and Michael at Google Webmasters!

    Richard John (@richardjohn786)
    RJO Ventures, Inc.

  • interstitial.. jeez been fast forwarding and rewinding to find where you mentioned that term. excellent vid. tnx

  • Christine Hill says:

    Look at her… she's like, "why can't this white guy be smart like us Asians? Why do we have to dumb ourselves down to their level?"

  • Appreciate the feedback guys 🙂 But please – choose a spokesman with public speaking experience as its painfull to listen to this dude "ahhh, and, ummm, and ahhhh," inbetween every couple words 🙂

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