After months of hints, Google officially announced they would be including mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor in their search engine results last week. Now we are getting more information about how the mobile-friendliness signal will be implemented when it goes into effect next month.
Google’s Gary Illyes answered several questions about the new ranking signal at SMX West, where he explained the ranking factor would operate in real time and works on a page-by-page basis.
The conversation started when Gary was asked if there was a deadline for when webmasters need to have their sites updates to avoid being negatively affected by the launch of the signal. According to his response, the algorithm will operate in real time, so you could theoretically update any time you want and expect to start benefiting from the signal immediately.
Most likely, the signal won’t actually operate in real time for webmasters, but will reflect the version indexed by Google. That means sites that don’t get indexed very often may want to ensure their sites are updated soon, while sites that are crawled and indexed daily can address the issue when they see fit.
Google has not clarified, but all sites will still get the most benefit from having their webpages ready before the April 21st launch.
Gary also stated the algorithm will operate on a page-by-page basis, so you will need to ensure every important individual page is updated.
This is important for many webmasters who have sub-sections or unique areas of their page that would be difficult to make mobile-friendly. If you have pages that aren’t intended for mobile users, you don’t have to worry about them impacting your other pages.
If you have many pages that aren’t easily usable for mobile visitors, you might want to reconsider your strategy overall as more traffic is coming from smartphones and tablets every day. The new ranking algorithm is a big statement from Google about the importance of mobile in the current state of the internet, and you can expect to continue to struggle if you resist the changing tides.