It’s been referred to as “Mobilegeddon.” It’s reported to affect more websites than the Panda and Penguin algorithm updates combined. It’s Google’s most recent update to the heavily used search engine designed to drive mobile friendliness.
While previous updates focused on quality content and high quality links, Google’s latest update is designed to get the same results: improving the user’s experience. For small- and medium-sized businesses, the update is imperative, as websites that don’t jibe with the algorithm will be heavily downgraded.
The new update is designed to affect the search results users see on mobile devices, and ultimately impact the way consumers browse for products and services, how they shop, and the way they spend their time on their smartphones. Specifically, Google announced that “Starting April 21 , we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal” so that “users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.” Google also plans to use indexed apps as a ranking factor.
Why it matters
Google recognized the increasing number of mobile users, and the update addresses that need. When a website isn’t configured for mobile search, it leaves the user with a negative experience. Perhaps the page is too large for the mobile screen, or the site is a challenge to navigate. The update will bypass these issues, rewarding sites that offer mobile users a good experience with a higher ranking. As a result, users will get search results that are relevant and usable, or essentially, high-quality search results on their mobile devices.
While it’s not directly apparent as of yet just how the algorithm will affect search results, experts believe it might help smaller competitors who are mobile optimized to get ahead of bigger competitors who haven’t yet tackled their large, and sometimes complicated, websites. It’s essentially a reward system, offering higher rankings for businesses that comply, and it’s punitive for those that don’t.
How to respond
If your business hasn’t yet optimized its website for mobile, now’s the time to spring into action. The first step involves evaluating your site. Work with a trusted website professional to evaluate its mobile friendliness. Google offers a free tool to analyze its performance. Some of the factors you’ll want to address include navigation, speed, visual display, blocked resources and ability to load. Factors that affect speed include compression, optimized images, caching server response time and more.
In the end, the site should comply with Google’s criteria for mobile friendliness, including avoiding the use of software, like Flash, that isn’t used on mobile devices, offers readable text as-is (or without having to zoom in), automatically sizes the screen to fit the device, and features properly spaced links that are easy for the user to differentiate.
You can use analytics as a guide to how urgently you need to address the fix. A significant amount of organic mobile traffic should require you to make the project a primary priority. Then, work with a professional to develop a course of action to avoid losing business as a result of the algorithm update.
Regardless of how your business decides to respond to the update, it’s important to create a strategy for improving mobile friendliness. In the coming years, offering consumers a great mobile experience should be a primary strategy for keeping your business on the cutting edge and competing in a diverse, global marketplace.
Mobile traffic is increasingly becoming a significant portion of consumer search. Fail to optimize your site for mobile, and you could be missing out on leads. Essentially, you’re throwing away potential conversions when you offer consumers a poor mobile experience. As a result, your business misses out on significant revenue potential.