Google Search Ranking Shakeups May Be Linked To Mobile Algorithm Update

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For the past week site owners have been reporting to see shifts in mobile search rankings, which is believed to be the result of a new Google algorithm update.

David Naylor, of UK Agency Bronco, published a story over the weekend detailing the evidence thus far that points towards a mobile-specific Google algorithm update. Not the least of this evidence is the fact that most webmasters who have seen their rankings drop have major mobile usability issues on their websites.

Further evidence came last week when Google’s John Mueller was asked about an algorithm update during one of his scheduled Google+ Hangouts. Mueller stated the update was not related to either Panda or Penguin, which leaves the possibility of a new type of algorithm update targeting mobile usability.

Finally, there’s the fact that just two weeks ago Google was sending out warnings to webmasters of non-mobile friendly sites that their search rankings may be impacted.

Was that Google’s way of giving everyone fair warning before launching the update we may be seeing right now? Jennifer Slegg of The SEM Post reports that the websites on the receiving end of those warnings are no longer ranking in mobile search.

If you’re the owner of a site that’s not mobile-friendly, it’s best to check your traffic patterns over the past month to see if you have been affected by this update.

If you see a notable decline in mobile traffic starting around January 24th, then that’s a good sign you have been affected. If that’s the case, then the best course of action would be to upgrade your site to a mobile-friendly design.

As far as what can be determined so far, the reported ranking shifts are only occurring in mobile search results. Desktop rankings are not being affected.

Matt Southern

Matt Southern

Lead News Writer
Matt Southern is the lead news writer at Search Engine Journal. His passion for helping people in all aspects of online marketing flows through in the expert industry coverage he provides.
Matt Southern
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  • https://plus.google.com/105453253092592231761 Michael Smith

    Matt, you may be right. Because i am seeing some fluctuation in some of my website which is from UK region. I have checked that, they are not mobile friendly, so it may be the one possibility. But main thing is that, i don’t get any notification in my webmaster account. So may be it will become an another animal from Google ūüôā

  • Jan

    Penguin algorithm is still running. That’s why the sahkeups in search results.

  • http://www.brickmarketing.com Nick Stamoulis

    Can’t say we didn’t see this coming. Google wants to give its users a good experience. Sites that aren’t mobile friendly aren’t giving a good user experience so it makes sense they’d drop off. If your site isn’t mobile friendly, the time to fix that is now.

  • http://www.easkme.com Gaurav Kumar

    Thanks for sharing this update. thank god that I already have mobile friendly site.

  • http://greengraphica.com/ Thomas Wagon

    On time! We just revamped our website to be mobile friendly just last week, and then this algo! Haha.. Lucky us!

  • Webbro | Web Design Camberley

    Hello, It is nice to see this information being displayed by another website, working as a freelance web designer, I try to explain the importance of responsive web design and future proofing our websites. I had already noticed that search engine rankings differ on mobile to desktop and by not having a responsive website, you loose a good chance to connect with a mobile audience. I believe that over 70% of people now connect to the internet and view websites via mobile devices. Responsive design is defiantly the way forward. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.dealerauthority.com JD Rucker

    We’ve been seeing the “mobile-friendly” tag on Android attached to some websites and they seem to be ranking better now than those without the tag on mobile search. On a term like “Automotive SEO” the mobile still matches the desktop view, though.

  • http://www.iambrandable.com Sunny Bal

    We just launched two sites last week. This is good news as it gives our clients a sigh of relief for opting for very mobile and tablet friendly websites.

    Thanks for the update!

  • Tim Vertz

    Come on people we all know a site being “mobile friendly” plays an important role in the overall user experience so why would anyone not already have a responsive web design is beyond me!

  • Nate Somsen

    Matt, thanks for your informative article. It is interesting to see that mobile usage is increasing when it comes to browsing the internet. I personally prefer to use a desktop computer where I can see everything in its full-intended spectacle. I’ll have to look for those messages from Google in Webmaster Tools, as well as monitor my mobile traffic as you had suggested. Once again, thanks for your heads-up!

  • http://muxions.com Sabeeh ul Hassan

    Well, you are right up to some extent but my website is mobile friendly and I personally got a big drop in my search impressions and clicks for 3 weeks. If I agree with this update then the impressions of my website should be increased. No warnings received from Google but after 3 weeks it starts jumping but it is still in flux. These types of untold updates sometimes really bother.