Have you heard of “Mobilegeddon”?
Do you have a survival plan?
Back in November of 2014 when Google first hinted that it would be labeling websites within its index as either “mobile-friendly” or “phone-optimized,” many in the search industry expected an algorithm adjustment to follow. Then, on February 26 of this year, Google announced the upcoming change, giving website owners almost two months to optimize their sites. If you’re familiar with Google, you know this is not the company’s standard operating procedure; instead of tweaking the algorithm without warning in an attempt to remove “spammy” search results, it wanted to give companies some time to update their websites before the algorithm was changed.
Why is this important to the world of search engine optimization (SEO)?
Google acknowledged that the mobile friendliness of pages will be a ranking factor, and it anticipates that this change will have a significant impact on search results. Google believes that close to 50 percent of searches happen on mobile phones—where consumers are looking for more relevant local information and are primed to buy. It’s choosing to optimize the search engine and its results to better accommodate these mobile users.
You may have seen this change sensationalized by news outlets as “Mobilegeddon,” accompanied by a warning that websites lacking responsive designs will suffer. Rest easy. Google isn’t threatening to penalize your site if it’s not mobile friendly.
Instead, the sites that meet the guidelines that Google put forth are showing up higher in the rankings due to:
- Using mobile-friendly software, e.g., no Flash
- Using readable text so users do not have to zoom to see
- Not forcing users to scroll Sizing content to the screen
- Making links easier to tap because they are spaced apart
Think about it.
If this were an update designed to hand out penalties, why would Google give sites advanced notice via Google Webmaster Tools? This is the first time Google has given advanced notice to site owners about a change—it’s like highway patrol putting up a sign to warn drivers before entering a speed trap. Site owners can easily view any issues through the Mobile Usability Report within Webmaster Tools and can see how their sites measure up to Google’s expectations by simply taking the Mobile-Friendly Test or reading the Developers Guide.
So who is most affected?
Small businesses may need to make some tough decisions as they weigh the cost of a responsive website with potential lost traffic due to an eventual drop in mobile rankings.
And who is not?
Big brands. Google stated that while there may be a slight ranking demotion for a brand, if the brand page is the most relevant result, it is unlikely that the brand page will not rank high in the search results.
Google is always changing the online landscape.
What happens if Google’s opinion of “mobile friendly” is completely different in three years? SEO strategists here at Planit (like myself) will be feverishly figuring out how it will affect our clients’ websites and we will leverage future changes just as we do for our clients today. In the meantime, site owners should consistently monitor their site performance and constantly improve the user experience regardless of buzz-worthy end-of-days headlines. Holistic SEO is the key.
Tweet @planit with #mobileseo if you have any questions for our SEO strategists.
Contact us if you want us to perform an analysis on your site to see how your website fares in relation to the ongoing changes of Google’s algorithm.