The Impact of the Google Mobile Update

3 Minute Read | Search Engine Optimisation

On April 21st of this year Google actioned its new mobile-friendly ranking factor. Today at SMX Sydney we were lucky enough to hear Google’s Gary Illyes speak about the search engine giant’s latest major ranking update. Here’s what we learned, straight from the man in question:

Garry Illyes at SMX
Photo courtesy of @dejanseo

Forcing Websites to Adapt

“This actually works. Even before April 21 many websites that weren’t mobile friendly were actually switching to mobile friendly. That’s why the industry experts didn’t see a huge impact… This update actually only finished being rolled out a week ago, but it’s a big change for our indexing system. We actually now have to reindex all pages to calculate its mobile friendly score.”

Page Speed

“What are our plans? We don’t have plans to stop here, we have a few ideas on how we can improve the algorithm, and we had these ideas before 21st April. Currently page speed is not part of the update, we don’t look at page speed for mobiles, but we probably want to change that in the future. If you think about it, I actually saw on Twitter that someone set up a 100MB page that we considered mobile friendly, it took me 2.5 hours to download it on data roaming and I am fairly certain that that page shouldn’t be considered mobile friendly.”

Webmaster Tools

“We wanted to provide tools and documentation for everyone to help with the change. That’s why we announced the update 2 months before, its something I don’t think we’ve ever done before a ranking change. At that time we already had extensive documentation and a mobile friendly testing tool available. All of these tools are available to help websites go mobile friendly. Later we also thought that it would make sense to have something inside Webmaster Tools that can test your whole site for mobile friendliness. Something that can tell you what the main problems are on your site, and the main feedback was that this was helpful.”

User experience vs Content

“User experience will never be more important than content. Content is what makes your site rank. We do use a couple of hundred signals and when it comes to mobile ranking, user experience is a ranking factor. As for reorganising the content I do suggest that you reorganise your content in such a way that when I visit your site I can get the main information as soon as possible. On mobile my time is more expensive than on desktop. When I sit down at home and I’m browsing Reddit for example I can easily go and read through the thread but when I’m on a mobile device it’s extremely hard to scroll all the way down to find something that might be of interest.”


“We consider that on tablets the screen is big enough to properly show the desktop page. We consider tablets desktop devices and therefore serve the desktop version for tablets instead of the mobile version. I’m not a tablet user, I actually hate tablets, but that’s not a Google thing, we don’t hate tablets. It’s just a personal thing.”

What has been the impact for you? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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