Google's Mobile Search Update Bigger Than Penguin, Panda

No word yet if it has a cute “P” name -- let’s call it “Puppy Schmuppy Doggy” -- but Google’s forthcoming mobile-friendly revamp of its search algorithm, due out April 21, will have a greater impact on its search result than previous iterations like Google Panda and Google Penguin, according to Google Webmaster Trends Analyst Zineb Ait Bahajji, who shared the news earlier this week at the SMX Munich conference in Germany. 

It’s not clear exactly what Bahajji’s statement means, but for comparison’s sake, Panda affected 12% of all English-language queries, and Penguin affected 4% of all queries from both desktop and mobile. Meanwhile Google says half of queries currently come from search, and eMarketer forecasts mobile search will surpass desktop search this year, so a mobile search revamp will necessarily affect a large part of the search universe.

Even before “Puppy Schmuppy Doggy” hits the streets, mobile search results already differ noticeably from desktop search. For example, back in November I wrote about a study by Searchmetrics, which found that search queries for the same term on mobile and desktop often produce different results. Searchmetrics analyzed ten thousand keyword searches, focusing on the top 30 results in each case, and found that 36% of Web destination URLs shown after a mobile search differed from those appearing after the same search conducted on a desktop or laptop. Meanwhile, 25% came from different hosts and 23% came from different domains altogether.



Google announced back in November that it would begin marking mobile-friendly sites with a mobile “badge,” and subsequently revealed that it would revise its algorithm to give more weight to mobile-friendly sites for search queries coming from mobile devices. At the time of the first announcement, Google defined mobile-friendly sites as having four criteria: they must avoid software that is not common on mobile devices, like Flash; use text that is readable without zooming; size content to the screen so users don’t have to scroll horizontally or zoom; and place links far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily tapped.

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