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How to prepare for Google's next major search update

James A. Martin | April 6, 2015
At the close of last month's Search Marketing Expo (SMX) West, conference speakers were asked to share their key takeaways.

As for the second change, Google also announced in February that apps indexed through Google App Indexing would immediately begin ranking higher in mobile search. So if you're signed into your Google account, content within the apps on your mobile device will rank higher in search results than it would have ranked previously.

For example, let's say you have the OpenTable app installed on your Android smartphone. Using that same device, you perform a Google search for a restaurant. If that restaurant is listed on OpenTable, a "deep link" to its page in the OpenTable app will be included prominently among the other search results. Currently, Google App Indexing only works on Android. For more details, check out Google's App Indexing for Google Search pages for developers.

What you should know moving forward

Google's mobile-friendly algorithm "will be a page-specific influence, meaning that if some pages on a specific site are mobile-aware and others aren't, those with the mobile-friendly design will get a boost on mobile searches," says Thomas Petty, president, Bay Area Search Engine Academy.

The new algorithm will give mobile-optimized pages an "instant" boost in search results, according to Petty. "If Google has previously indexed your site, and your site wasn't mobile-aware at the time, and the next time Google comes to a specific page of your site that now is mobile-aware, that page will get an instant boost in mobile searches," he says.

Given how much emphasis Google is placing on mobile-friendliness, the algorithm could also directly or indirectly impact desktop search result rankings right away, or at some point in the future.

"Google has been notifying website owners for several months now in Google Webmaster Tools if their website isn't mobile-aware," Petty says. "I believe mobile-awareness will continue to be an influence on the good experience that Google wants users to have on all the various devices we carry."

Visibility in mobile search results could inadvertently impact desktop search rankings, according to DeMers. "The most significant current ranking factor is quality and quantity of inbound links to a website or page," he says. "One of the ways websites accrue inbound links is through their content being linked to as a resource."

If journalists, columnists, bloggers and others who are likely to link to that content can't find it on mobile devices, the content may not acquire as many links as it might have otherwise. Fewer links could therefore diminish content search rankings in desktop searches as well as mobile. "So a lack of visibility in mobile searches might negatively affect desktop search visibility as well," DeMers says.

Google algorithm updates also tend to penalize sites "across the board," says Arham Khan, senior digital marketing executive, HighQ. If a site is penalized for not being mobile-friendly in mobile searches, it will also likely be penalized in desktop searches, he says.


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