In the past few weeks Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and many other channels have been glowing red with #Mobilegeddon in the wake of Google’s latest algorithm update, which officially declared a website’s mobile friendliness as a ranking criteria for mobile search results. The word “Mobilegeddon” implies that judgment day has come for non-mobile friendly websites, but has it truly changed the mobile search landscape?
In this blog post we will dive deeper into the meaning of Google’s newest algorithm change to favor mobile optimized sites, and discuss the severity of the change.
GOOGLE’S LATEST ANNOUNCEMENT CONFIRMS THE NEED FOR MOBILE OPTIMIZATION
On their official Search blog, Google confirmed that on April 21st 2015 a new algorithm change came into effect and they used the opportunity to once again underline the importance of mobile-friendly websites for webmasters across the globe.
The purpose, Google states, of making mobile-friendliness a ranking criteria is to ensure that when a user searches from a mobile device, the text on the website they land on should be easy to read and the general functionality of the site should make it easy to navigate thus creating a good user experience. In the end, remember that Google is here for the sake of Internet users, so it is in Google’s interest to keep us all happy and pleased with their search results. As users are increasingly using mobile devices to browse the web, Google has decided to try and create some standards for this expereince by adding such ranking criteria.
Website owners have to think more “mobile” when they edit their websites, not just to increase the user friendliness and improve site design, but now as part of the fundamental site SEO.
WHAT HAPPENS TO NON-MOBILE FRIENDLY WEBSITES?
Despite the great pressure recently imposed on website owners to get responsive design, Google continues to help out those who haven’t yet converted to responsive or mobile-friendly design. In Google’s recent announcement there are many helpful pointers and tools made available to encourage website owners to make the change and understand what happens if they don't:
INTERESTING TAKE-AWAYS FROM GOOGLE
Aside from elaborating on the algorithm change, Google also mentions some interesting numbers and points in their recent announcement, which tell more about the development in the use of mobile devices and why mobile-friendliness has become a ranking criteria:
DISCUSSION – HOW IMPORTANT IS THIS ALGORITHM CHANGE FOR SMALL BUSINESS WEBSITE OWNERS?
The word “Mobilegeddon” has emerged in the ongoing dialog between SEOs, experts, journalists, and others who have been debating the algorithm change online. One might imply that non-mobile friendly websites are finished on Google, but is this really the case?
MOBILE FRIENDLINESS - 1 OUT OF 200 CRITERIA
Google themselves make sure to point to the fact that mobile friendliness is not the only parameter a website is measured on when the search engine evaluates where to place the site in the search results. It is only one out of over two hundred criteria such as:
In our opinion, this new algorithm change will affect websites very differently. As Google also mentions, websites with great and relevant content will still rank high in mobile search results if Google still means that a website, despite not being mobile friendly, has the best content. So, if you still live and breathe by the rule that content is kind and quality is queen, the mobile-friendliness ranking factor may have little affect on mobile ranking results.
On the other hand, if the website owner hasn’t focused on SEO and the website lags behind on many of the 200+ ranking criteria, the algorithm change will likely strike hard.
WHO WILL TAKE THE HARDEST HIT?
One thing that is very important to note about this algorithm change is that it is only the mobile search results that will apparently be affected. Many experts also believe that the website’s mobile friendliness has an impact on the ranking in desktop search results. This is not confirmed. Google has only announced that mobile search results are affected, so this is what we know for a fact.
Therefore it makes sense that websites with the majority of their visitors coming from mobile devices will experience the greatest change from this algorithm change.
On the other hand, those sites that get very little traffic from mobile devices will likely not be able to sense the drop in traffic (yet). But site owners in this group should not sit back and relax, as it's only a matter of time before their visitors start shifting more and more to mobile devices. So if any smart website owner planning for the future will have to get on the mobile bandwagon.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO NON-MOBILE FRIENDLY WEBSITES?
The algorithm change is not necessarily handing down the death penalty to non-mobile friendly websites. Though the message from Google is quite clear, the future is mobile and therefore you should be mobile as well.
More and more consumers and businesses alike prefer their mobile phones to gain Internet access. In fact, Google states that 50% of all searches on Google come from a mobile device, and the number is growing.
Non-mobile friendly websites will struggle to keep those 74% of mobile users who are more likely to return to mobile friendly website. In other words, a non-responsive website will cause a drop in returning visitor rates, a drop in new visitors and then likely a drop in revenue.
While there has 'only' been a 4.7% increase in mobile-friendly sites since the original announcement, this number will only increase over time and competition will start to suprass your site the longer you wait to optimize.
CONCLUSION: THE FUTURE IS MOBILE
Google has spoken quite clearly; mobile-friendly design is the future.
Even though non-mobile friendly websites can still be found in mobile search results, the future looks dark for those websites who have not converted to responsive design or other more mobile-friendly design practices. People are using their mobile devices at a staggering rate and have quickly formed opinions on what they determine to be a mobile-friendly experience.
While the term “Mobilegeddon” exaggerates the effect of this algorithm change a bit, it does promote the understanding and the importance of mobile-friendly design and it's affect on professionalism. So yes, post algorithm change we still feel that website owners must optimize their sites to mobile-friendly design ASAP.
B2B Marketing Coordinator