What is Google going to do?
If your website isn’t designed to properly handle mobile traffic, it is high time to do so, since April 21st will see your site may get penalized if it still isn’t responsive to mobile devices. In other words, you will drop in the search engine rankings, and who knows by how much.
If you were worried about the Panda and Penguin updates, which came without adequate warning, you should certainly be worried right now – since Google has warned site owners in advance. If Google believes there will be a considerable effect on search rankings with its new update, you should as well.
In February, Google issued a clear statement that they intended to “not reward” those websites which they didn’t think were mobile-friendly, by saying that they would use mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This was reiterated by their subsequent statement that the change in their algorithm would impact languages around the globe, and the search results would definitely feel the force.
Past, Current, and Projected Desktop Internet Usage vs. Mobile Internet Usage
Here’s some basic facts about the update:
- The update will be in huge favour of mobile friendly pages in the mobile search results.
- Smartphones are the main mobile devices of focus.
- The update may take as much as a week to reach out to the entire internet.
- Desktop search results won’t be impacted.
- Besides improving the ranking of mobile optimised pages, it will also enhance the rankings of index apps, if the user has them installed and is logged into them.
- Pages which aren’t optimised for mobile devices will have their rankings axed in favor of pages with mobile optimisation.
- Your entire website will not be punished for individual pages that aren’t optimised.
- Webpages / websites which aren’t mobile optimised won’t have their desktop search results affected.
- You don’t have to make your website entirely mobile optimised if you want a single page to be ranked highly in mobile searches.
- All languages, all over the world will be affected.
- There are no grey areas in Google’s criteria – your page is either friendly or non-friendly.
- It is recommended by Google that, above all other techniques, responsive design by employed for cultivating mobile friendliness. This will minimise chances of crawling errors.
- Just like their desktop equivalent, mobile optimised pages must build their own rep through unique quality content.
- Mobile optimised pages will have a ‘Mobile-friendly’ label appear next to them in the mobile searches.
- According to Gary Illyes, a Google rep, page speed won’t be factored into the update’s revised ranking criteria. It is still a sound idea to improve your page speed so that it doesn’t take more than a second for your mobile site to load.
- There’s a rumor that this update is referred to as ‘Mobilegeddon’.
When is this update going to happen?
According to a tweet by Zineb Ait Bahajji, a Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, the new mobile friendly update could have more of an impact than Panda and Penguin.
You might want to take a moment to appreciate this – Panda and Penguin updates were responsible for reducing the rankings of several hundred businesses, while elevating those of others. The updates were spontaneous and unpredictable, leaving webmasters and SEO experts in the blind as to how to get their rankings back.
Thankfully, Google has announced beforehand that the update rolls out on April 21st 2015, so webmasters have ample time to prepare their sites for the update Google searchbot. Owners of mobile friendly websites need to take stock as well, since the update will likely cover many things that they might have missed out in spite of having websites optimised for mobile devices.
What are the possible outcomes of this update?
While this update will impact only mobile searches (for the time being), it will have a considerable effect on the search results. Users of mobile devices will now get search results that are relevant and optimised for them. In other words, websites which are optimised and designed for mobile users will get top search result positions.
Not only will this aid mobile users, it will also be a positive shift for the search engine giant itself. By giving an improved experience to mobile users, Google gets a step ahead of the competition, such as Yahoo and Bing, in the search engine market.
For organisations with sites which aren’t optimised for mobile devices, this could spell impending disaster. As already mentioned, they need to act quickly and create mobile friendly websites to avoid getting penalised and losing search engine ranking.
However, companies that already have sites designed from the perspective of mobile users, this is a great opportunity to gain a competitive edge. For instance, a second tier firm with a mobile optimised website can go from near obscurity to top position in the search results, as its larger competitors experience demotions!
Is your website mobile friendly? We can help you mobile optimise your site!
Google has been pointing to this inevitable shift in focus towards mobile for quite some time now – they strongly endorsed responsive design in the past few years, including more ‘mobile friendly’ labels to their mobile search results and, more recently, launching their own mobile-friendly testing tool.
And while the change may immediately affect only mobile searches, it is apparent that mobile friendliness (in fact, device independent web design), will keep on gaining priority in the subsequent Google algorithm updates.
Put simply, mobile friendliness isn’t a mere ‘nice to have’ feature anymore for your company’s website. To stay relevant in a multi-device technology landscape, you will have to make the jump to responsive design, as soon as possible.
Is my website mobile-friendly?
Having a site geared towards mobile devices is absolutely essential for businesses for a number of reasons. For starters, mobile internet usage has become very common – to the point that 40% of those who have mobile phones use it to go online, presenting a vast marketing opportunity.
This has been aided by the rise of smartphones and the endorsement of mobile platforms by search engine giants. Indeed, mobile searches have exceeded desktop searches in the past few years. With smartphones offering technologies such as GPS and 2 dimensional barcodes, businesses have more ways than ever to appear on the customer’s radar, and they can fully capitalise this opportunity by having a presence online which is easily accessible for mobile users i.e. a mobile optimised website.
If you want to find out whether your website is ready for mobile devices or not, Google has provided their own testing utility at:
Regardless of what is offered by third party experts, the Google mobile-friendly tool is provided by the dominant search engine, which is also responsible for the commotion caused by its mobile friendly algorithm update. This is why you can count on it to provide the truest picture of your site’s mobile friendliness.
Is your website mobile friendly? We can help you mobile optimise your site!
How to make your website mobile friendly?
There are several possible answers to the question of how to make website mobile friendly:
- A mobile website: An easy solution to transform your website into a mobile site is to develop a new version of it that is optimised for mobile devices. This will ensure that all of your site’s existing features load on mobile devices correctly while providing the users with an experience similar to what they had on your original site. You can utilise many free site development platforms for this. An excellent example is WordPress CMS, which has plenty of mobile friendly plugins and responsive mobile website templates that you can incorporate into your website design to make it better suited to mobile devices!
- A responsive website: Instead of going the mobile website route and creating a separate website optimised for mobile devices, you can create a single website which renders appropriately on both mobile devices and regular computers. Responsive web design, as mentioned before, has already been endorsed by Google as the way forward, and is great for a company with limited resources and a tight budget. You won’t have to split your funding and team into the management of two separate sites if you go for this option. Think of it as getting the best of both worlds!
- A mobile app: You may want to develop a task-oriented app for mobile devices, rather than an entire mobile website. This depends on the reasons for which users may access your site. For instance, a large proportion of airline customers normally wish to perform a few select tasks when they’re travelling. They might wish to find out about status changes and flight times, and they may wish to make reservations. A mobile app can be used in this scenario for alerts, ticketing and scheduling. You can easily hire a developer / development company to make a fully customised app for your company.
- Hybrid solution: You can opt for both a mobile website and a web app. A hybrid solution ensures that your customers will have the quick functionality of the app coupled with the freedom offered by a fully-fledged mobile website (for things that the app can’t or won’t cover).