Content Marketing Blog

Google warns mobile-friendly algorithm update will be bigger than Panda and Penguin

Website owners have been warned that next month’s mobile-friendly algorithm update will have a bigger impact on search results than Panda and Penguin.

The remarks made by a Google analyst at a conference in Europe overnight have led to renewed interest in the update scheduled for April 21st.

Google announced last month that it would begin favouring sites that provided a better user experience on mobile devices, which are accounting for an increasingly large share of search traffic and online activity in general.

“When it comes to search on mobile devices, users should get the most relevant and timely results, no matter if the information lives on mobile-friendly web pages or apps,” the company said in a Webmaster Central blog post on February 26th. “As more people use mobile devices to access the internet, our algorithms have to adapt to these usage patterns.”

Next month’s update will impact mobile searches in all languages, worldwide, with Google adding that it would have a “significant impact in our search results”.

Just how significant remains to be seen, but Google analyst Zineb Ait Bahajji got the Twittersphere all excited last night when she reportedly said it would have a bigger impact than Panda and Penguin. Her comments were tweeted by web entrepreneur Aleyda Solis, who was attending SMX Munich, a search marketing conference, and re-tweeted by Ms Bahajji’s Google colleague, Gary Illyes.

Google’s has made it clear that it wants to improve the quality of results in mobile search. But given that Panda and Penguin represented such huge change to all search results, some doubts have been expressed about how likely it is that this forthcoming update will be on an even larger scale.

Google’s original blog post announcing the mobile-friendly update said it would affect only searches on mobile devices, so while mobile searches are expected to get a big shake-up, searches  on other devices probably won’t see anything like the shockwaves of Panda and Penguin.

“We know the mobile-friendly algorithm only impacts mobile search results, so I’d assume she is talking about the mobile impact only,” SearchEngineLand’s news editor, Barry Schwartz, said in a blog post breaking the story. SearchEngineLand is owned by Third Door Media, which runs the SMX search marketing conferences.

Panda and Penguin refresher

The first Panda update in November 2011 targeted sites with lots of thin, low quality or duplicate content. There have been a number of Panda updates since then, the most recent being Panda 4.1 at the end of last year.

Penguin took aim at some of the common tactics used to game search results, such as keyword stuffing and inbound links from weak domains. The first Penguin update went live in April 2014 and have there have been multiple refreshes since.

With more and more searches moving to mobile devices, it’s never been more important for website owners to make sure they have a mobile-friendly online presence.

Getting mobile friendly

Google offers a free a tool for checking the mobile friendliness of your site, along with tips on how to fix problems. Sites that offer a mobile-friendly experience have been getting a tag in mobile search results since last year. If your site is mobile-friendly, it should look like this:

Castleford is mobile friendly