Answering Your Questions Regarding Google’s Mobile Update

Google’s new mobile-friendly update has caused commotion around the web. In this post we answer some of the frequently asked questions about Google’s newest update.

On April 21 Google put their latest mobile-friendly update into effect. It has now been a couple of weeks since the changes came into effect and many people are concerned about how their site has been affected.
The last thing you want to do is lose traffic due to an update in Google’s algorithm. In order to provide clarity, Google attempted to answer some of your questions about what has been called “Mobilegeddon”.
We’ve listed some of the most common questions regarding the mobile-friendly update. The answers in italics come directly from Google, and the non-italicized text is from WestHost.
How do I know if my site is “mobile friendly”?
Individual pages can be tested for “mobile-friendliness” using the Mobile-Friendly Test.
This quick test is the easiest way to find out if Google considers your site mobile friendly. If your site doesn’t pass the test Google will provide you with a reason. Common reasons are:

  • The text is too small
  • Links are too close together
  • The mobile viewport is not set.

How can I set the mobile viewport?
You may need to change how the browser views your web page on a mobile device. In order to specify the viewport, refer to Google’s Configure the Viewport developer help page.
Will desktop and tablet rankings also be affected by this update?
No, this update has no effect on searches from tablets or desktops. It affects searches from mobile devices across all languages and locations.
Does Google give a higher mobile-friendly ranking to pages using Responsive Web Design (which uses the same URL and the same HTML for the desktop and mobile versions) versus hosting a separate mobile site (like www for desktop and for mobile)?
No, mobile-friendliness is assessed the same, whether you use responsive web design (RWD), separate mobile URLs, or dynamic serving for your configuration.
Although Google doesn’t favor it, responsive web design is becoming the norm among websites. Our Website Builder can help you create a responsive website that is optimized for desktop, tablet and mobile devices. By using responsive web design, you’ll not have to worry about creating your mobile site separately; that’ll all be taken care of during the site build stage.
Will my site/page disappear on mobile search results if it’s not mobile-friendly?
While the mobile-friendly change is important, we still use a variety of signals to rank search results.
Although your site may drop in rankings, if it’s not mobile-friendly it will not disappear entirely. Google will still reward pages for quality content that is relevant to its audience.
Is it a page-level or site-level mobile ranking boost?
It’s a page-level change.
Each page on your site is tested for mobile friendliness. For example, if your homepage is deemed mobile friendly but your contact us page isn’t, only the homepage will benefit. Make sure to keep this in mind when testing your site.
I have a great mobile site, but the Mobile-Friendly Test tells me that my pages aren’t mobile-friendly. Why?
If a page is designed to work well on mobile devices, but it’s not passing the Mobile-Friendly Test, the most common reason is that Googlebot for smartphones is blocked from crawling resources, like CSS and JavaScript, that are critical for determining whether the page is legible and usable on a mobile device (i.e., whether it’s mobile-friendly). To remedy:

Some sites are still having issues even after making the appropriate adjustments. One reason may be that Google can’t crawl your site due to your robots.txt file. Make sure that you update or eliminate any robots.txt files.
Refer to Google’s Webmaster Support to learn more about robots.txt files and how you make sure they allow your site to be crawled.
Has the update gone into effect?
Although the update started on April 21, sites are still being updated because they need to be re-crawled and re-indexed.
If your site wasn’t updated by April 21, or if it still isn’t, it’s worth making the necessary changes as soon as you can. Google determines whether or not a page is mobile friendly every time it is crawled and indexed. In other words, the sooner your site is mobile friendly, the sooner it will be rewarded by Google.
We hope that “Mobilegeddon” hasn’t affected your site negatively. If it has, keep in mind that Google is willing to help websites achieve a mobile-friendly status. Refer to Google’s Mobile Guide for all the information you need to make sure your site passes the test.

If you still have unanswered questions, leave a comment below or send us a Tweet @Westhost. We’ll do our best to help you make sure your site meets Google’s latest update.