Google has told site owners to be patient about seeing the impact of a change in its mobile algorithm that was released this week. 

April 21 saw the company roll out an update that would see pages of sites become subject to a ranking promotion or demotion, depending on how smartphone-friendly they were.

Such was the build up of yesterday’s big launch that a mobilegeddon hashtag trended worldwide on Twitter – a huge moment for SEO – while bloggers rushed to their sites to relay the changes they’d seen already.

But Google has said that not all will have seen the impact of its work on the day the update was introduced. A Webmaster blog post from Maile Ohye, Google’s developer programs tech lead, explains that changes will spread across this week and possibly into the next.

“You won’t be able to definitively determine whether your site’s rankings are impacted by the mobile-friendly update by April 22nd. While we begin rolling out the mobile-friendly update on April 21st, it’ll be a week or so before it makes its way to all pages in the index.”

Site owners can still use Google’s ‘mobile-friendly’ tester to see how ready their pages are for the change. 

Re-building commences

The information about Mobilegeddon’s timescale of implementation came during a ‘General FAQ’ release at the Webmaster blog, which also ran over some of the points for sites to bear in mind.

Once again, Google highlighted that its mobile update would only affect results on smartphones, impacting pages rather than sites, and that its ‘Googlebot’ would naturally re-index a page that became mobile-friendly after April 21.

The blog also confirmed that mobile-friendly sites could link to pages that were not mobile-friendly themselves without suffering from the algorithm tweak. 

Moving on, Google answered the hypothetical query from a site that wasn’t mobile-friendly but needed to become one fast. The question focused on the tactic of launching a stripped-down site before a fully responsive one was ready. 

In this case, Google urged a degree of caution. 

“While the page may be formatted for mobile, if it doesn’t allow your visitors to easily complete their common tasks or have an overall smooth workflow, it may become frustrating to your visitors and perhaps not worth the effort. 

“Should a temporary mobile site be created, once the RWD [responsive web design] is live, be sure to move the site properly. For example, update all links so they no longer reference the separate mobile URLs and 301 redirect mobile URLs to their corresponding RWD version.”

This week’s update follows Google’s revelation that 50% of searches on its engine are conducted on mobile devices.