This week Google announced one of its most significant algorithm updates in quite some time, and is even giving website owners ample time to prepare for it.
The search giant has also given more flexibility to site owners with respect to how their company images are displayed across the web, and a possible future update to mobile search results was spotted in the wild.
More details about each of these top stories in this week’s SEO news roundup.
Latest SEO News – Week Ending 2/27/2015
Mobile-Friendliness Is Now A Ranking Factor In Google Mobile Search
In a major announcement expected to have quite a dramatic effect on mobile search results, Google stated that as of April 21st mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal will be extended throughout mobile search results.
What that means is Google will primarily focus on surfacing sites in mobile search results that are mobile friendly. Sites that are not mobile friendly can expect to see their rankings in mobile search drop and their traffic numbers to drop accordingly.
How To Check If Your Site is Mobile Friendly
Whether you think your site is mobile friendly, or whether you’re really not sure at all, I encourage all site owners to run their site through Google’s mobile friendly site testing tool.
Google has a very specific set of criteria that it uses to determine if a site is truly mobile friendly. The testing tool will let you know if your site meets Google’s criteria.
If your site passes the test, you should have nothing to worry about. If your site does not pass the test, it will let you know the improvements you need to make in order to meet Google’s definition of mobile friendly.
I can’t stress enough that you should make Google’s recommended changes as soon as you can — by April 20th at the very latest. If your site is not up to par by then, you can count on losing the organic search traffic you were getting from Google mobile search.
Google Gives Business Owners More Control Over Photos Displayed In Search Results
If you’re very particular over which images are used to represent your business across Google properties, you’re going to appreciate an update Google introduced this week.
If you have a Google+ page for your business, you know that whatever photo is set as your profile photo is the one that Google displays in search results when indexing your Google+ page.
Well now you can select a different image to be displayed in search results from the one chosen as your Google+ photo. Google has also added six new categories of photos, to be displayed in Search and Google+. These categories include identity photos, interior photos, exterior photos, photos at work, team photos and additional photos.
To take advantage of this new functionality, log in to your business’s profile and go to the Photos section. From there you can customize how your business’s photos appear across Google.
Google Is Testing A “Slow” Label In Mobile Search
This week Google was spotted testing a red “slow” label in mobile search results that appear to be designed to alert searchers when a site may load slowly on their device.
By its own admission, Google is always experimenting with different search features, but often those experiments end up going live. For instance, the “mobile-friendly” label that now appears in Google mobile search began as a test.
If this test goes live it certainly has the potentially to negatively impact traffic of sites that Google determines to be slow. To check whether or not your site is up to speed (see what I did there), I recommend running your site through Google’s Page Speed Insights tool.
If Google finds your site to be slow, it will recommend the improvements you need to make.
Wrapping It Up
This is one of those weeks that people in the SEO world will be talking about for a while. The full impact of Google’s mobile algorithm update won’t even be felt until a month from now, but its already expect to be tremendous.
In addition to mobile-friendliness, also keep a close eye on your site speed because it looks like Google is making that more of a priority for mobile search.
If you have any questions or comments about this week’s updates, please leave a comment below and I’ll be sure to respond.