New Google's mobile-friendly rules and Business Catalyst

Gaurav Sharma - Saturday, April 11, 2015

It is a widely known fact that beginning April 21st, 2015 Google will apply new indexing rules that are aimed to change the search algorithm for mobile devices. Here are few thoughts on how these changes will affect existing Business Catalyst sites and the advantages of a new algorithm you can benefit from when creating new sites.

About the new algorithm

On April 21, 2015, Google will release a significant new mobile-friendly ranking algorithm which means that Google will use Mobile Friendliness as a ranking signal. The update doesn't apply to tablets or desktop, just smartphones, but everyone should make their site mobile friendly, because about 60% of search traffic now comes from mobile.

"Statistics show that more people are going 'mobile only' - either because they never had a desktop or because they won't replace their existing desktop," Google writes in a blog post. "

How to Prepare for it?

If you already own a mobile-friendly website, you won’t have much to worry about. However, if your website is not ready for mobile strategy for your online presence, get this done as soon as possible.

  • Make sure the mobile version of your site is active and functional. Responsive designs are popular, but you can also have a separate hosted mobile version of your site. Google doesn’t have a preference, as long as mobile users’ experience isn’t interrupted.
  • Google’s mobile bots can crawl your site. If Google can’t see it, it may as well not even be there.
  • Refer to the developer guide for more information and tips.

Mobile Sites vs Responsive Layout

Webmaster trends analyst from Google, Gary Illyes did share a few details in a recent Q&A. The summary of Q&A is given below

  • Responsive design does not have a ranking benefit
  • Googlebot must be allowed to crawl CSS & JavaScript to pass the "mobile-friendly" test
  • Mobile friendliness is determined at the page level – not sitewide
  • Tablets will not be affected by this update
  • Google is currently working on a dedicated mobile index

What about mobile sites? (Mobile support feature in BC)

Responsive sites have their own benefits, but even if you have mobile site, you are safe from this new update. Google understands following setups as Mobile Friendly,

  • Responsive Web Design
  • Dynamic Serving
  • Separate URLs

Google explains Separate URLs as, a common setup would be pages on serving desktop users with corresponding pages served on for mobile users. Google does not favor any particular URL format as long as they are all accessible for all Googlebot user-agents.

Business catalyst allows you to setup both the options, Responsive layout and Separate URLs, to see how it works on Business Catalyst, check this document Mobile friendly websites

Does Google give a stronger mobile-friendly ranking to pages using Responsive Web Design (which uses the same URL and the same HTML for the desktop and mobile versions) vs. 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. If your site uses separate mobile URLs or dynamic serving, we recommend reviewing the Mobile SEO guide to make sure Google is properly crawling and indexing your mobile pages.  To answer more FAQs about this update, Google has published a list of FAQs, which can be viewed here FAQs about the April 21st mobile-friendly update

If you have any additional questions on this topic, I'll be happy to answer in the comments.