Insights & Perspectives

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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Mobilegeddon: How Google’s Search Changes Affect Your Business


In a change that has been nicknamed “Mobilegeddon,” Google modified its search algorithm on April 21st to favor “mobile-friendly” websites. With around 60% of web traffic coming from mobile devices, this could have a substantial impact on your business’ ability to be found online. Learn what you should do today to ensure that your business isn’t affected, and how you can use these changes to create a competitive advantage for yourself moving forward.


What has changed?

Google has changed their search algorithm so that searches performed on smartphones will be more likely to return sites that are “mobile-friendly.”

What makes a site “Mobile-Friendly?”

If you’ve ever gone to a site on your phone and had to zoom in to read the text, or seen text that scrolls off the page, making you scroll right and then back left again on every line, or if you have ever clicked a link on your phone only to have your phone’s browser zoom in so you can specify which of the too-close-together links you really meant, you have an idea of what a site that isn’t mobile-friendly looks like. These are some of the main criteria that Google looks at in determining whether a site is mobile-friendly or not.

If you’re not sure whether or not your website fits the bill, Google has created a tool to let you check your site’s mobile-friendliness at  https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/

If this only affects searches from phones, why does this matter to me?

Shortly after the rollout of the algorithm change, a Google executive stated, “Google searches on mobile devices now outnumber those on personal computers in 10 countries, including the U.S. and Japan.”a To dismiss mobile searches as insignificant is to be in danger of outdated thinking that will lead to an inability to compete with those who are acting on current trends.

In addition, in one study, it was found that 70% of mobile searches lead to action within one hourb. If you think about the typical user who is searching on mobile, they are not sitting at home, they are looking for something right now, and you have the opportunity to give them what they are looking for.

 

How can I get my site to be mobile friendly?

 

Aftermath

It has been nearly three months since Mobilegeddon began its rollout, and two months since the changes have been fully implemented. Many Search Engine Optimization (SEO) experts have noted that the effects on search ranking were not nearly as severe as had been anticipated.

Many were expecting non-mobile friendly sites to be obliterated in the rankings, much like sites were penalized in the Panda (first rolled out 2011) and Penguin (first rolled out in 2012) updates. In retrospect, this was an unrealistic expectation, as Panda and Penguin were intended to penalize poor quality and spammy websites using questionable SEO practices to get a high ranking, whereas Mobilegeddon was intended to improve users’ mobile experience.

Despite Mobilegeddon not quite living up to its hyped name, many non-mobile friendly sites are seeing some decreased traffic from mobile devices, and all of the statistics about mobile searches and mobile usage remain true. Additionally, mobile users are likely to exit a site if it is difficult to use on their current device.

Even with the impact of Mobilegeddon more muted than many expected, having a mobile-friendly website is critical in the modern digital age.

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  1. Source: http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2015/05/05/google-rolls-out-new-ads-as-mobile-searches-top-pcs-in-10-countries/
  2. Source: http://www.iacquire.com/blog/mobile-behavior-big-game-seating-a-study-with-surveymonkey

 

Written by:
Matt Volpenhein