Not bearing the name of an animal like Panda or Penguin, Google is updating page rank today for individual pages based on their mobile-friendliness. Google announced the upcoming change quite some time ago and today, April 21st, the update is rolling out.
Today’s update is intended to assist users performing searches from mobile devices. Sites will be given an updated ranking that takes their mobile-friendliness into consideration and that will change where they appear on the mobile Google Search Results.
From the Inside Search blog, Google explains the intentions of the updates from the consumer-side:
If you use Google search on your mobile phone, you can now more easily find high-quality and relevant results where text is readable without tapping or zooming, tap targets are spaced appropriately, and the page avoids unplayable content or horizontal scrolling. In just the two months since we announced this change, we’ve seen a 4.7 percentage point uptick in the proportion of sites that are mobile friendly, and we hope to see even more in the coming months.
For the webmaster perspective, Google provides the Mobile-Friendly Test and a Mobile Usability report in their Webmaster Tools. An announcement was also directed toward the webmaster audience through the Google Webmaster Central blog about today’s update. Some of the changes were clarified in the post as well as an accompanying FAQ page.
Most interestingly, desktop/tablet rankings will not be affected by today’s change which affects at the page-level, not entire site-level. Pages can automatically be re-evaluated after this update if their mobile-friendliness improves, meaning you do not have to wait for another big update. Whether you use a responsive web design or a separate mobile site, you should see an improved ranking for mobile search over mobile-unfriendly competition.