How will Google’s 21st April Algorithm Update Impact Search Results?


10 Apr How will Google’s 21st April Algorithm Update Impact Search Results?

Back in February, 2015, Google on it’s webmaster central blog announced that “rankings in mobile search results will change April 21st.” As a continuation to this announcement we have put together some of the most frequent asked questions and their answers to benefit both web masters and digital marketeers.

1. What modifications is Google making to its algorithm on 21st April?

Lately, Google has rolled out a number of adjustments to apps, Google Play, the indexing of mobile Search Engine Ranking Pages (SERPS), & other changes that affect mobile; most of these changes are being made or were made considering the 21st April update. Google has not yet been fully vocal on the changes come 21st April, here’s our best guess of what may transpire on 21st April and what may follow thereafter.

Google may launch a highly efficient brand new mobile crawler that will crawl web apps on platforms like Android and iOS. It is also expected that the crawler will be most efficient indexing apps built on Java by exposing an apps’ CSS and JS.

2. Will a website’s desktop rankings be effected if it isn’t mobile friendly?

During a recently concluded panel meeting at SMX Munich a spokesperson from Google with conviction answered ‘NO.’

3. How large will be the impact of such an update?

According to the spokesperson at Google, such an update will have a greater impact than the announcements of Penguin and Panda update had. The video below by Dr. Pete Myers, Marketing Scientist at Moz gives a detailed understanding on how such an update will impact Google SERPS .

4. Are sites seen as mobile friendly if they are redirected to a mobile sub domain?

It is preferable to set up a mobile responsive website over redirecting to a mobile sub domain. If redirect is already set up then most likely it will be considered as mobile friendly too.

5. How can one know if a website meets Google’s requirements to be termed as mobile friendly?

Any user interested in testing out mobile responsiveness can use Google’s Mobile Friendly Tool checker. Post analysis the tool shares if a website has passed the responsiveness test.

Google’s Mobile Friendly Test Tool in action

6. Will having a mobile app impact search results?

There is a high likelihood that having a mobile app will impact search results. While searching through mobile search engine results from Google may include mobile app results too. What this could do is either compete with the existing search engine listings. If, Google decides to display ‘app’ listings separately i.e. over the regular search results, this could impact the web traffic whether or not the website is mobile friendly.

7. When should a company invest in a mobile app? Which platform should it be present on iOS or Android, or both?

A company should invest in a mobile app if it can’t deliver to the needs of it’s target audience over a mobile web site. Though an organization can still decide to have a landing page over the web that diverts traffic to download and install an app. Tinder is a good example. Some of the other examples include photo editing apps, GPS apps, a flash light app, etc.

A company can still decide to invest in a mobile app if it is targeting audience across devices and across OS platforms. A mobile app in that case can act as a platform that complements and adds some value to the audience behavior on a mobile or a website. An example could be of tracking loyalty points on a mobile while an individual is shopping for groceries either online (web or mobile) or in-store.

Understanding audience behavior across platforms through deploying analytics (say Google Analytics) could be one of the smart ways of deciding which platform to choose iOS or Android or both. One of the alternative approaches to decide on the platform will also depend on the brand objectives. If the brand needs to be seen as highly transactional with ‘In-App’ purchases or wants to offer services which are subscription based, choosing iOS platform will be a better approach. If the brand would like to be discovered easily, highly accessible to its audience leverage services like Adwords to monetize its presence, choosing Android platform will be a better approach.

Post 21st April update, there might be a high likelihood that Android apps will fare better in search results over iOS apps. Considering crawlers current capability, for purely SEO purposes Android will be a better choice over iOS.