It’s been coming for a while and finally it’s here. On Tuesday, April 21, giant internet search company Google is announcing a major update to its mobile search algorithm. Also known as the Mobilegeddon, the update is expected to affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and could have a significant impact on search results.
Google made the announcement in early February giving webmasters nearly two months to prepare for the changes. Moreover, the company provided useful information and feedback necessary to keep your mobile site alive when the algorithm is finally rolled out. Interestingly, the changes are still expected to cause a major ranking shake-up. In fact, the name “Mobilegeddon” was chosen because of how “Apocalyptic” the update could be for millions of websites.
“Come April 21, a lot of small businesses will wake up to a rude shock,” said one CEO of a website building company when he spoke to the Business Insider. “They are going to be really surprised when they find that the number of visitors to their sites has dropped significantly. And it’s going to affect millions of websites.”
However, the CEO also pointed out that only businesses and other webmasters who’ve not prepared for the changes will be seriously affected. “I think the people who are at the biggest risk are those who haven’t prepared for it,” he says. In essence, that could mean most small businesses.
So, what exactly is Mobilegeddon?
We are already familiar with the Pandas and Penguins – the algorithms used by Google to control site rankings on the web, right? Well, Mobilegeddon is a similar tool except that it focuses primarily on mobile-friendliness.
In 2014, mobile overtook PCs as the preferred device for browsing the web. In short, most people are now accessing the web using their mobile devices rather than computers. Actually, about 60% of traffic now comes from mobile. A 2015 research by eMarketer shows that the average adult spends 2 hours 26 minutes on mobile everyday excluding time spent on voice calls, compared to 2 hours 13 minutes spent on PCs. This shows why Google is so keen on enhancing user experience on mobile devices.
Recently, webmasters have had to rethink their strategies to better reach their audiences. This gave birth to mobile-friendly design which basically means building websites that provide better user experience on smartphones and tablets. A popular technology is responsive design where a site is designed such that it scales dynamically based on the size of the browser window or device screen.
If you’ve been working tirelessly to make your site user-friendly, then the new algorithm will come as welcome news. Mobilegeddon will take into account how mobile-friendly your website is. Consequently, mobile unfriendly websites will suffer because mobile friendly websites will be ranked at the top of search results. For two businesses in the same industry, selling the same goods and/or services and with nearly-similar websites, if one site is mobile friendly and the other is not, after April 21, the mobile friendly website will rank higher than the mobile-unfriendly website.
For webmasters, this is a big concern because even websites that previously ranked on the first page could be pushed back several pages if they are deemed mobile-unfriendly by Google.
Google says that the change is designed to help users find search results formatted for specific devices.
How big could the impact be?
Google hasn’t given figures on the number or percentage of web searches that are likely to be affected. However, you can tell that the impact will be big when you listen to what experts and a few Google professionals have had to say.
For instance, Zineb Ait Behajji from Google’s Webmaster Trends team was recently quoted as saying that the update could have a much bigger impact than Penguin and Panda which affected 3% and 12% of websites respectively.
When they made the announcement in February, Google mentioned that the algorithm would have a “significant” impact on mobile searches which only reinforces Zineb’s comments. Yet, just like the company he works for, Zineb couldn’t quote an exact figure.
So, is it still possible to determine approximately how many sites could be affected? Thankfully, Yes! The answer is – all websites that aren’t mobile-friendly.
Maybe the more important question for businesses should be how much you could lose if your site is affected. Mobile search currently makes up 30% of all traffic regardless of the industry. For some businesses, it’s as much as 60-70%.
Stats show that Moz.com for example could lose up to five positions on Google search results which could cost the company as much as 41% of Smartphone traffic and up to 3% of total traffic. Use this template and your own data to estimate how much traffic you could lose.
How to prepare for Mobilegeddon
Fortunately, you can do a few things to ensure that you don’t lose so much traffic.
1.Test your site for mobile friendliness
The first step is to test your website for mobile friendliness. There are quite a few ways of doing this. The first method is to view your site’s listing in Google search results on mobile. A “Mobile-Friendly” tag will appear just beneath your URL if your site is mobile friendly. If the tag doesn’t appear, your site is not deemed mobile-friendly by Google and may need to be updated.
Google has also developed a Mobile-Friendly Test page where you can test your site. Just go to the page, enter a web page URL in the search area and see how well it performs for mobile devices. If the site fails the test, you may need to update it.
If your site passes the Mobile-Friendly Test but you still don’t see the “Mobile-Friendly” tag for Google search results on mobile, it may still need a few improvements.
2.Learn what constitutes mobile friendliness
What exactly does Google mean by mobile-friendly? While there isn’t a universal definition for a mobile-friendly page, the following points should be considered;
- Text must be readable without zooming
- Links must be placed far enough apart to make it easy to locate and tap on the correct one
- Content must be sized to fit the screen so that users don’t have to zoom or scroll horizontally
- Avoid software such as Flash which isn’t necessarily supported on mobile.
There are a few options to configure your site for mobile-friendliness. These include;
- Responsive design – this is also Google’s recommended option. Responsive sites use the same HTML and URLs across devices, rendering excellent displays across devices using CSS.
- Dynamic serving – this is where you use the same URL but a different HTML to serve different devices.
- Separate URLs – this strategy employs HTTP redirects to serve different code to different devices using separate URLs.
As you can see, as scary as Mobilegeddon is, you can still minimize or completely eliminate the possible impact of the algorithm. You don’t have to wait until you’ve lost half of your visitors before acting. Check your mobile-friendliness today using the method provided above and see if you’re ready for the Apocalypse.
If your site is NOT listed as mobile-friendly, contact SimpleMachineDesign.Com on 479-286-1377 to discuss your situation.