At BrightonSEO today, Gary Illyes revealed that local pack results are not affected by the new mobile friendly ranking algorithm that is due to arrive on April 21st, which makes perfect sense.
Then Gary replied to me and tweeted this:
@jenstar yep, just the "10 blue links" are, but of course teams who own the other features may also use mobile friendliness on their own
— Gary Illyes (@methode) April 10, 2015
Yes, the new mobile ranking algorithm will only apply to the organic “ten blue links” and not any other results that are included within various search queries.
This means that other components on the page, such as “In the News”, “In-Depth Articles”, Local Pack results and any other extras on the page that are not the 1-10 (although this number can vary sometimes) straight organic search results will not be demoted for not being mobile-friendly. And it also is why Google only shows the “Mobile-friendly” tag on the organic “ten blue links” only.
That said, other teams are responsible for the other components on the page outside of the organically chosen links. They use their own algorithms to determine the results that are shown. So those teams could decide to apply mobile-friendliness to those sections in the future.
It does make sense that Google is splitting the organic “ten blue links” from the other results included on the search results pages. For example, for “In-Depth articles”, it is good that Google is serving the best in-depth results to users, especially for medical queries, regardless of whether they are mobile friendly or not.
Likewise, with the “In the News” results, because Google is only showing a small sampling of news stories – generally 3 – showing the best option is probably best. And many news sites are often mobile friendly already, so there is probably a lesser chance a non-mobile friendly “In the News” link would be served – a SERP sampling I did for “In the news” from mobile were all mobile-friendly sites.
There is also the role of user experience as well. Despite mobile-friendliness being a ranking factor for mobile searches, Google still needs to serve the best results to users, as that is what keeps a searcher using Google rather than switching to Bing, Yahoo or DuckDuckGo. And while general search results have many more options to chose from when ranking, results that would be displayed in “In-Depth Articles” and “In the News” are much more specific and narrowed down in comparison.
And user experience is also why brands will still be ranking for their brand name, even if their mobile friendliness is non-existent. Users expect to see it.
So – at least for now – only the true organic search results will be impacted by the mobile-friendliness ranking algorithm… although the other teams could apply mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor to other components in the search results at any time.
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