For many businesses that rely on their online presence to increase revenue and drive profitability, today could be a very good day, or a very bad day.
What’s now being dubbed as “Mobilegeddon,” or Google’s most recent algorithm update, will now reward mobile-friendly sites in search result rankings and penalize sites that are not fully optimized for the ever-growing mobile market.
Google announced the update on February 26th through their webmaster blog, explaining that, “Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.”
Without proclaiming that the sky is falling and being overly apocalyptic, according to Google, this is a massive algorithm update. One more impactful than Penguin and Panda.
So what exactly does this mean for your business? How do you even know if your website it optimized for mobile devices? And if it’s not, are you totally screwed?
First, take a deep breath. If you’re asking yourself these questions, you’re not alone, and we’ve got you covered. Here’s what you need to know about how Google’s algorithm update could potentially affect your business, and what you can do to make sure you’re optimizing your website for mobile.
Why is Google updating their algorithm?
Before cursing Google for the update, realize that this is a good thing for business owners and consumers alike. If you’re a business owner whose website isn’t mobile-friendly, this algorithm update should be a kick in the pants to get you to update your website. Because mobile browsing is rapidly increasing (according to Google, 94% of people with smartphones search for local information on their phones), the likelihood of you losing business and traffic from an outdated website is high. Google’s update now forces business owners to adapt to the changing times, and a mobile-friendly website update will make your website and business much better off in the long run. Consumers will be happy visiting your mobile-friendly website on their mobile devices, and your business will be happy as a website update can result in more visitors and increased revenue.
How do I know if my website is mobile-friendly? Test it!
Before becoming a full-fledged doomsday prepper, you’re going to want to test your website for mobile-friendliness. Because Google wants your website to be mobile-friendly, you can easily test your website with Google’s mobile-friendly test.
It’s simple. All you need to do is enter your website’s URL into the test box provided, click “analyze” and let Google do the rest. The results will be one of two outcomes:
The most ideal outcome is that the test will result in a success message like the one below:
If you see this message, congrats! Pat yourself on the back. This means that your website is mobile-friendly and you’re ready for Google’s update. This test will also show you how Googlebot sees your website, and whether or not you have resources that the Googlebot can’t seen. While this mobile-friendly success message is great, it doesn’t mean your website is fully optimized for mobile. Here’s the difference between mobile-friendly and mobile-optimized.
Now, if you test your website’s URL and it’s not mobile-friendly, you’ll get a message like the one below:
First, don’t freak out. You’ve just taken the first important step to becoming a mobile-friendly website, which is awareness of the issue. While Google’s updated algorithm will negatively impact your website, it’s not the end of the world. You’ll notice that Google will provide you with reasons why your website failed its mobile-friendly test. It’s now time to become a mobile-friendly website.
How does my website become mobile-friendly?
Since this this is a Google algorithm update, the best way to answer this question is to refer to Google’s mobile-friendly guide. In this guide, Google covers the reason for making a mobile-friendly website (covered above), how to get started making a mobile-friendly site, the cost, the top three mistakes beginners should avoid, and more.
There are multiple mobile-optimization approaches that one can take when updating a website. The three basic approaches include mobile responsiveness, dynamic serving, and mobile website.
Responsive Web Design
According to Google, responsive is their recommended design pattern and, “serves the same HTML code on the same URL regardless of the users’ device (desktop, tablet, mobile, non-visual browser), but can render the display differently (i.e., “respond”) based on the screen size.”
According to Google, dynamic serving “uses the same URL regardless of device, but generates a different version of HTML for different device types based on what the server knows about the user’s browser.
Finally, a mobile website is a separate URL entirely. According to Google, a mobile website, “serves different code to each device, and on separate URLs. This configuration tries to detect the users’ device, then redirects to the appropriate page using HTTP redirects] along with the Vary HTTP header.” A mobile website was the earliest version of mobile optimization, but is no longer preferred, as it forces Google to crawl, and you to maintain, two versions of your website.
If you have a webmaster or web consultant, talk to them about updating your site to one of the three above options. You can also use online service such as Dudamobile, which creates a mobile-friendly version of your website for only $5 a month.
If my website isn’t mobile-friendly, how will it impact my business?
One thing to note is that this algorithm update will not affect desktop searches, but it will affect searches on mobile devices. So if you’re concerned that your high ranking on desktop searches will plummet, don’t fret yet. However, with so much web browsing occurring on mobile devices, it’s still imperative that you update your website to a mobile-friendly design.
While some large businesses and corporations will be impacted by the update, the biggest impact will be felt by small businesses. Why? Because many small businesses don’t have updated websites or the resources that large businesses do to fully update their website for the growing mobile audience. Because many local small businesses are found through online directory listings like Yelp and Yellow Pages, if you’re a small business owner, make sure your local information is up-to-date as well.
Additionally, the update won’t permanently penalize your website ranking. You can still build search credit after the update, and Google says it will take up to a week for the changes to impact websites, but every day you wait to update your site you’re losing mobile traffic.
At the end of the day, if your website isn’t mobile friendly, this algorithm update isn’t the be-all end-all for your business’s online success. You can still have a high-ranking website based on many other factors, but having a mobile-friendly site is now just more important that it used to be. If your company and website are relevant, you’ll still appear high on search results, especially on desktops.
If you’re interested in learning more about optimizing your website for the mobile audience, here are 5 obvious signs it’s time to optimize your website for mobile devices.
Kaufer DMC also provides website design, development and maintenance packages so contact us to learn what we can do to make sure Google’s algorithm update positively impacts your SEO.
Written by Luke Severn
Luke is a marketing coordinator at Kaufer DMC. He loves the Arctic Monkeys, David Fincher movies, and the Portland Trail Blazers.